In Kaikoura

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

We’ve made it to the seashore town of Kaikoura, on the eastern/Pacific coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s pretty clear that this destination is one of the more touristy ones we’ve seen: ATV companies, skydiving, kayaking, whalewatching by sea or sky…the list goes on and on. Just cough up the cash and any kind of adventure is here. We’re planning a whale watch trip tomorrow afternoon, and hoping that it won’t be as windy as it is today…it’s really blowing and it’s quite cold  despite a beautiful day of sunshine.

We never made it to the town of Nelson. The road was still closed this morning, and we found out that not only was there a mudslide, but a logging company lost a load of lumber that tumbled down the mountainside and onto the main road. Man, I’d hate to be driving there when that happend! So I guess it was fate that we just wouldn’t see Nelson this time around.

The trip from Blenheim to Kaikoura is supposed to be about two hours long. It took us almost six. Granted, we did make many stops for photos since it was the first real beautiful day in a long time. And the scenery was spectacular: the road winding through mountains, hundreds of acres of grapevines, fields full of cattle, sheep and even deer (all farm-raised on pasture land here)…and flanked by the Pacific Ocean. We also made a pretty big detour to check a winery called Yealands Estate, which is one of the largest and most beautiful wineries we’ve ever seen. I can’t even begin to describe the vastness of the meticulously planted grapevines, and the beauty and size of the cellar. The wines weren’t bad, either! But we only bought one bottle this time, since we’re loaded down with wine and we can only take a certain amount of it home.

Before we left Blenheim, we made a quick stop to deliver Krupnikas bottle #2 to a local artist named Clarry Neame, a guy that paints spectacular oil paintings. We visited his gallery yesterday, when we had lunch at the Hunter’s Vineyard in Blenheim, where he has his studio. Kelly fell in love with one of his paintings entitled “The Song of Marlborough,” a beautiful mountain/vineyard scape, and yes, we bought it. He was especially happy that a fellow artist loved his work and we had a nice conversation with Clarry and his wife. We decided that the Krup bottle would go to them. The painting, fortunately, will be shipped to our home.

On the way to Kaikoura we made a stop at an internationally known foodie destination called Nins Bin. (I read about it in several foodie websites.) It’s basically a little shack in the middle of nowhere, right on Rt 1, the main road that takes you to Kaikoura. It’s smack dab on the water and just about all they sell is the local lobster New Zealanders call crayfish. It’s a clawless lobster, so all you really get is meat from the tail, and it’s stupidly expensive. We did the math and figured that it cost about $22 US dollars a pound (shell included)…but it’s one of those things you have to have when you’re here and the meat was really tasty…much firmer than our New England lobster. It was a fun experience and Kelly took a cool photo that we will post later on. By the way…the town of Kaikoura gets its name from two words: KAI, which means food…and KOURA, which means crayfish.

It’s 7:30PM now, and I’m getting dirty looks from the wife. The sun sets late here, so it is now the “magic hour,” as Kelly calls it…time to go and take pictures with the perfect light. Then it’s off the the Green Dolphin restaurant here…Italian food…nice change of pace!

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