I awoke early but only got out of bed at 8:00am when the free breakfast was laid out. It was just corn flakes and toast but beggars can’t be choosers. I chatted to some English people who were in New Zealand doing seasonal work. I told them I was planning to do a walk around the peninsula and they had actually investigated it finding out that it should take between 2-3 hours which was perfect; I set out and would be back for lunch.
It was a beautiful morning, although cool the sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sea was calm as I made my way along the beach.
As the beach curved around along the Peninsula there were some stunning views back towards the little town of Kaikoura and the snow-capped Kaikoura Range of mountains.
The path was well signposted along the way and further out along the Peninsula I reached the Pier which was a perfect place to get out over the water and take this large panorama shots of Kaikoura.
NB: click to enlarge
I also took the chance to change to my 55-250mm telephoto lens and get some close up shots of some of the wildlife along the coast.
There were hundreds of seals at the tip of the peninsula, basking in the sun right next to the path. Here you had to make a choice whether to go up onto the cliffs or follow the path around the bottom next to the sea provided it wasn’t high tide (or turn back but that wasn’t really an option). I chose to walk along the coast as it looked like the tide was out and I thought it would be more interesting. It certainly was as just around the next corner I startled two seals sleeping on the path who both quickly hoped away. Around the next corner were more seals. Some just looked at me disapprovingly for having woken them up and then promptly lay back down to sleep keeping one eye open till I’d passed. Others took fright and hopped away faster than you’d think seals could move. While a few were quite put out and would start barking at me and bearing their teeth forcing me to alter my course and take a wider arc around them. I really had to watch where I was walking as what would appear to be just another rock or log would suddenly move I’d suddenly find myself face to face with an annoyed seal. The views were amazing though along this section of the scenic reserve as you can see in the panoramas below.
I then got to a section that was quite narrow between the cliffs and the sea with a large number of seals all sunning themselves and I decided rather than disturb them I should rather backtrack slightly and take a midway staircase up onto the cliffs for the remainder of the peninsula walk. With a different perspective of this wonderful scenery I got the best of both worlds with some fantastic views from above.
The walk had taken longer than I expected but I finally reached South Bay on the other side of the Peninsula from Kaikoura where the sign post on the path indicated it was a one hour walk back to town. Having walked all the way along the coast it was now time to turn inland and walk over the hill back to Kaikoura through a Pine forest and farmers fields before re-emerging back at the beach where I started. In total it took me five hours but so worth it and I did stop to take a lot of photos along the way.
Once back I went for a late lunch at the Subway just down the road from the hostel. Then I booked my ferry from Picton to Wellington online, as recommended by our driver as it is slightly cheaper. Then it was time to relax and rest my weary legs in the spa as the sun set and the stars came out – a great way to end the day!