Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Kaikoura is a small pennisula next to a deep water bay on the east coast of New Zealand.  The deep waters around Kaikoura are rich with marine life including whales, dolphins, paua (abalone), and crayfish (rock lobster).  Until recently the town of Kaikoura inhabited by farmers and fisherman and today hosts weekenders from Christchurch and ecotourists.  Claire's parents own a bach (cottage) in Kaikoura so we met them there and spent five days in town.

The penninsula was the site of a traditional Maori Pa, a defensive fortification. In more recent times it has been used as farmland and around the coast there is a lovely and well maintained coastal path. During low tide you can walk around the penninsula in a few hours over tide pools and at other times an alternate path with fantastic views can be walked on the cliffs above. The pennisula is also an important breeding ground for seabirds.
Lucky cows
New Zealand flax on the cliff edge
Life in Kaikoura still revolves around the ocean.  Recreational diving and fishing are popular and fruitful for those with a tolerance for  frigid waters.  I was extremely keen to try my hand at snorkeling for paua and crayfish and fortunately Claire's family had a cache of wetsuits and equipment to pursue such endeavors   Our first attempt at seafood self-sufficiency was a snorkel trip just two blocks from the bach at small bay.
With two wetsuits on and a hood the cold waters were tolerable.  However, the bay was covered with seaweed and visibility was general poor making the job very difficult for novices.  We ended up going home empty handed.

We decided to try our hand at setting out an old lobster trap. We used a small rowboat to paddle out a hundred or so meters from the shore and set out the trap on three consecutive days, each day returning with nothing more than a freshly picked over bag of gleamingly white fish bones.

A sympathetic neighbor was kind enough to give us a large and delicious crayfish for our efforts. We were able to find paua fritters at a local food truck and we fulfilled the rest of our seafood quota by eating fish and chips on numerous occasions. Kaikoura was absolutely one of the highlights of the trip.

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