Thursday, November 25, 2010


This is my penultimate day travelling with Stray; tomorrow we will drive to Picton and then then catch the ferry over to Wellington, and I will catch a bus to Napier on Sunday. In some ways I will miss travelling on the bright orange bus, but I am also very much looking forward to not being herded around from city to city as I have been in the last five days or so.

This morning we left Christchurch and drove up to Cheviot, a small farming town of about 1 500 people in the North Canterbury district. Here we had our morning tea break (I had ice cream for breakfast. Oh that's right, I'm living on the edge), and Tia explained the ropes of the Stray bus to those who had just hopped on this morning and were starting their trip around New Zealand. It's funny to think that I'm a veteran of the Stray bus now; I know exactly what is in store for these fresh young travellers.

It's the fact that they have to have the sign, not just what the
sign says, that makes this so amusing (and disturbing).

Our destination for today is the lovely seaside town of Kaikoura; its name comes from the Māori word for seafood (kai, food, koura, crayfish), which makes perfect sense, as until the late 1980s when the tourism industry started to pick up, Kaikoura was known primarily as a fishing town. In Māori legend, the Kaikoura Peninsula (Taumanu o Te Waka a Maui) is where Maui placed his feet while he hauled up the fish of the North Island from his waka of the South Island.

The Stray Bus atop the Kaikoura Peninsula

Admiring the view

The township of Kaikoura as seen from the Peninsula

If only all water tanks were this amusing.

After my wonderful excursion to the bar last night for the goodbye party I didn't get a lot of sleep, so when Tia passed around the activity sheet for today (Dolphin and Whale Watching) I opted out; instead, I spent the afternoon wandering around trying to find the supermarket (success), and then took in some of the sights and sounds of Kaikoura, including the TranzCostal train from Picton to Christchurch coming through town over the bridge just past 3pm. I walked over to the railway station, and it was eerie to think that I was here just over a month ago in that very spot, stopped with Mainline Steam and Ab 663 to take on water.

The South Island Main North Line
 passing over State Highway 1

The TranzCostal, enroute from Picton to Christchurch

I felt sorry for this seagull. On the other hand (leg?) he
seemed to be doing just fine, despite having only one foot.

For dinner I went to Cooper's Catch, where I was treated to the best whitefish and chips I have ever had.

Best "fush and chups". Hands down.

It is right across the street from our accommodation, the Adelphi Lodge, a historic hotel from the 1920s that has even managed to survive a devastating flood in 1993 (apparently the floodwaters were six feet high on the ground level!). Upstairs, the hallway is shaped like a "U", and the rooms are arranged around it in a mystifying collection of showers, toilets, and apparently random placement of ensuites and linen cupboards. To get to the dorm room I am in one has to walk down a hallway, open a locked door, step into another small hallway, past a single shower, and then into the bedroom; the toilet is off the room as a quasi-ensuite in its own room, but the sink is in the main room! It's a little bewildering, but entertaining nevertheless.

The change in the carpet pattern on the landing marks
the high water level from the terrible flood.

Adelphi Lodge has a love of The Far Side.

One of the better signs encouraging responsible dish-washing

I went for a walk along the beach today, watching the locals fish, and enjoying the sound the waves make as they crash into the steep, pebbly shores; when the waves recede, they drag the large pebbles back with them, a sound that is loud yet oddly comforting; a sound of nature. It is nice to be in a smaller community one again... while the cities can be exciting, I am happiest surrounded by nature in the small towns and parks.

Kaikoura Beach

Back to Wellington and the North Island tomorrow… let us hope that the ferry crossing is calm!


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