Weekend Trip To Kaikoura

Kaikoura is my favourite place in the world. Being located just 2 and a half hours drive north of Christchurch, it's the perfect driving distance for a weekend getaway. The only problem that you'll find is that there's so much to do in Kaikoura that often you have trouble packing it into one weekend. With diving conditions forecast to be 'ok' and having recently purchased a new GoPro Hero 3+, the time had come to head up. We'd managed to get hold of one of the awesome pop top campas from Jucy and had a small place to park up at, in South Bay. If you're planning a trip to Kaikoura, there's loads of campsites both free and paid scattered around Kaikoura, check the free CamperMate app to find them. IMG_3502 (Large) Low tide on Saturday was at 6.20am and a few of the group wanted to get some Paua. You aren't allowed to take Paua with tanks (only snorkelling) so low tide is the best time to catch some. If you're interested in Paua, you might like to check out this video. Remember to only take what you absolutely need. There was a bit of swell, which tends to make a shore diving difficult especially if you don't have a rock to balance on while putting on your fins. However, once you're out past where they're breaking it's pretty easy going. Visibility was pretty average at about 2-3 metres. While Kaikoura is great and full of sea life, it's quite exposed to the southerly swells and is quite often limited viz. However, with the amount of sea life there, sometimes I don't want to be able to see too far into the depths! After getting out to about an 8 metre depth, the crays started to appear in their crevices. I was mostly intent on filming them for this trip rather than catching some for the table. There were a few Tarakihi and Moki around, perhaps they knew I was only filming as they were coming much closer than normal! Here's a bit of footage from that dive. One of the group wanted to have a dive in calmer waters, so after filling the tanks for $6 at the Caltex just north of the town, we headed around to South Bay. It doesn't have the sea life that some of the more exposed coast has due to getting picked over quite heavily, but is far calmer and good for learning in. South Bay Domain is a bit of a paradise during the day. It has a dump station,IMG_3504 (Large) recycling station, public toilets, picnic tables and just an awesome area to chill out in. It's really safe for swimming in also. If you do visit here, go and read about the history of the whaling station here, located at the toilets. While it's a little sad to think about whales being hunted in this day and age, back then it was how they survived. They used to spot them from the nearby clifftops, then deliver the sightings back to the men by way of smoke signals. Interesting stuff. These days the whales are a big draw card for tourism.  The Hikurangi Trench runs just out from here, which is why Kaikoura is so popular for whales, given the depth. IMG_3500 (Large)With a couple of dives under our belt, we were all pretty worn out so after stocking up on groceries at the local New World went for a cruise along the southern coast, as the sun was shining. The drive along the Southern Coast of Kaikoura has to be one of the most beautiful in the South Island. On one side you have the huge mountains and on the other you have the sea. You have to be careful not to be distracted when you're driving in such beauty! If you are thinking of a mission to Kaikoura, I would definitely recommend staying a few nights. There is so much to do both in the way of free and paid activities. The locals are friendly and there's plenty of places to eat out at. If you want a real experience, grab some fish and chips for tea from one of the shops on the southern end of the main street and take them to the beach (just across the bridge). Here's a clip of the drive along the Southern Coast of Kaikoura as seen from my GoPro mounted to the windscreen (heading back toward Christchurch).