January 15, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the....whales..?

After our short visit of Greymouth, we headed back on the train to Christchurch. We stayed at the same hotel, this time getting a "deluxe room" that didn't have a view of cars. We instead had a lovely patio that led out to the rose garden. :) Too bad it was raining...

We had no desire to head back into town to try to find food, especially since the hotel shuttle had stopped running for the evening. So we called our favorite pizza chain - Hell Pizza. Yay! 

Next morning we were up at the crack of...eh...up early to catch the train to Kaikoura, "where the land meets the sea". (And yes, another cab. Seriously, why even have a hotel shuttle?!?) The weather was much better this time, and as we neared Kaikoura we had a fabulous view of the sea.
We grabbed a quick shuttle to our hotel, the Anchor Inn Motel. The Inn is gorgeous, and just across a small road from the beach.
Although we arrived very early (around 10:30 am or so), we were able to get into our room and settle in a bit. The owners are incredibly friendly and helpful - they even booked a lovely dinner for us at the White Morph Inn just down the road with a quick phone call, even though it was New Year's Eve!

We rested a bit then headed back towards town/train station to grab lunch and go on our whale watching tour. Do you see all the whales? No? Yeah, neither did we. =(

Due to a Southerly change in the wind currents, the sea was quite choppy. All of the tours for the day were canceled due to safety concerns. Ah, well...

We hung around town a bit looking for something to do and not having much luck. It was New Year's Eve! We walked back to the hotel, checking out a war memorial/garden along the way. Two whale jaw bones were donated to the park in memory of the woman who kept the memorial garden going for several years.
We also passed a skate park (which are common here). I love how the name "Kaikoura" is so prominent against the sea:
When we got back to the hotel, we saw in the guest services book that we could rent bicycles...cool! So we did. We biked down to the seal colony and came across these interesting rocks along the way:

And we saw a seal! We watched him for a bit to see if he was breathing because he was sleeping so deeply, he initially looked dead (he could also be a she, but we weren't getting close enough to check!!)

The mountains were mostly covered by clouds, but you can *just* see the peaks peeking out...

Later, we had a very good meal served by a very poor waitress (we guessed it was her first night) overlooking the sea. We walked back to the hotel and watched our favorite movie (Lilo & Stitch) while waiting for midnight. We opened the doors to hear the ocean waves breaking on the beach, and rung in the New Year with a kiss. One of the best New Year's ever! =)

The next morning the sky was clear (of course) and we had a very good view of the mountains from outside our room:

And the view from our room: The road wasn't very busy, as it dead-ended at the seal colony a mile or two down the way.

Finally, a 360 degree panorama of the views from the beach in front of the hotel:

Kairkoura is so amazingly beautiful! And by far the best experience we had on the trip - especially the hotel. A perfect place to ring in the New Year!

We later found out that Kaikoura is the first community in New Zealand and second in the world to achieve Green Globe Benchmark status in 2002. Green Globe is the world’s only truly global tourism certification standard and arose from the principles of Agenda 21. It aspires to be a system that responds to the major environmental problems facing the planet as well as seeking to achieve environmental, social and cultural improvements at a global, national and international level. Sweet!


Katybug said...

Did you go to Milford Sound?

Marrisa said...

Yippeee, we are back online!!

So I have finally caught up with your trip, fantastic! I love it so much. You have given us heaps of ideas for our trip next month. The hotel looks gorgeous, we have booked the 2 bedroom family room so I hope that has a nice view too. Michael has already decided on the Monteiths tour - it was one of the first things he chose!

Fantastic trip guys, loved the vids too. Hope to see you soon, you will have to come up on the train and see us at the new house!!