How many times are you on a road trip, and you think – I really should pull over and spend some time here.
We were driving to Blenheim to Christchurch – a four and a half hour drive, that demands at least one stop. Luckily we fit in five and each time it was worth it. The drive alone is spectacular – following this rocky coastline with Mountains towering above us and the railway beside us. We drive across long bridges over braided rivers, through tunnels hewn out of the rock. I am so glad we did this on our drive down the Kaikoura Coast to our destination Christchurch.
Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, an intriguing building catches our eye, and it seems time for coffee. I had not heard of it before – though as I walk in I note that it has been judged best café in the Marlborough Region.
As we walk in fire is raging, and candles alight and the coffee is fantastic. It is so worth the stop – a fantastic building perfectly situated on this rugged coastline.
As we drove down the coast I spotted a seal with it’s nose in the air, so we decide to pull over. There are seals everywhere – a big old one sits in the middle of the car park oblivious to us. Small ones frolic in a nursery with mother keeping a careful eye out.
It is winter, pretty cold, but that is baby seal season on this rocky coast. I had forgotten – that while Kaikoura has its world famous Whale Watch trip, it is also a magic place for seals. Once hunted to extinction, they are making a comeback, and what a sight they are.
Ohau Stream Seal Pups
Cynthia knows this road well, but has never stopped here. A Department of Conservation sign and quite a few cars make the spot beside the railroad which we have been following down the coast.
Just under the railway bridge there is a pool with three seals cavorting for a family. When little people go they seem bored with us but perk up when another family comes.
Another 10 minute up the valley we pass resting seals, and then come to the waterfall where there must be dozens of pups frolicking. What a treat – this is so worth stopping for.
Kaikoura fish and Chips
We should be eating crayfish – there are signs all along the road offering this particular treat – Kai Koura literally means something like eat crayfish. However we settle for Sushi and some fish and chips from Tikis takeaways which displays a sign that it has one the prize for the best fish n chips in South Island second in New Zealand.
The chips are a bit soggy today but that was balanced by them offering happily to grill the fish which must mean it is fresh. We sit in the carpark eating our fish and chips overlooking the sea, and looking up the coast and the layers of mountains outlined by the mist. Choice!
How could we drive down this coast line and not drop in on a winery? We had seen a TV programme about the building of their new restaurant at Black Estate, so when we spotted it up the hill, we decided we had to pull over.
Unfortunately we had eaten our fill (the food looked sensational), so we settled for a wine tasting and a few bottles to take with us.