I had checked the night before online if the State Highway (SH) 1 was open or not. Due to the earthquake last year big parts of it where destroyed and it was closed for almost a year. Just 1 or 2 weeks ago they had opened it again during the day. It was still closed during the night though. When I checked on the homepage it said it would be open when I was going to drive there. So in the morning I only quickly looked on google maps on my phone and it sent me over the SH1 (the weeks before it had always sent me over the longer route). So I drove to Blenheim. It took me about two hours to get there. But in Blenheim came the big surprise. Due to the storm of last night the highway was closed again. Aaaahhh, that meant a giant detour plus I could have started this detour directly from Nelson and spare myself at least 3 hours of driving. Like this I had to drive quite a bit back and then turn on SH67. It was not so easy to find since my GPS insisted on sending me over SH1 and google maps as well. When I was out of town finally at least MapsMe managed to realize where I was heading and I followed that until it said 150 km straight. In Saint Arnaud I urgently had to fill up the car. It was super expensive so I only put $25 worth of petrol inside. When I started driving again I still couldn´t use my GPS or Google and MapsMe suddenly said I would go the wrong direction. I was confused but ok, I turned around. Had to drive quite a bit back and then turn on a gravel road. It didn´t look like many people would use that road; it also said something like private. After a few kilometers on that road it said no through road and eventually I ended up in front of a closed and locked gate. Ok, so now I could not even trust MapsMe anymore. I turned around, got a map of New Zealand and did it the old school way. Just to be really sure after so many hours of driving, I asked a local too. And I was back on the road. I just had wasted another hour. I drove over Murchison to Spring Junction where I had to go to a gas station again for even more money and started the last leg to Kaikoura. I finally arrived shortly after 9 pm, completely knackered after more than 600 km and 9.5 hours of driving alone with almost no breaks and about half of the way in rain. The reception at the Albatross Backpacker was already closed, but I had called from somewhere on the way and there was a letter for me with all the information I needed. I was too tired for cooking so I just ate some instant noodle soup. The hostel is really nice, but they don´t have free WiFi. So I used my phone as a hot spot and worked a bit on my blog before falling into bed and sleeping like a stone.
I slept in the next morning. It was still rainy and cold and I was not really motivated to do anything. Eventually I walked into the town, to the beach, looked at some shops.
I just couldn´t get myself to do some longer hike or anything so I went into a bar, ate a little something and drank a beer and went back to the hostel. I took a nap, did my laundry and my exercises and worked on my blog. I cooked and had dinner and got some nice plum-chocolate cake a German couple had just baked. With this couple I went to The Whalers later for a drink before calling it a night.
The next morning I had to get up at 7:30 since I had booked a Whale watching flight over BookMe with the Kaikoura Aero Club. For days already almost all boat tours were canceled since the sea was too rough and I was also hoping to see more whales out of a plane since you are faster in getting from one point to the other. We were 5 people plus the pilot; I could sit in front again. We saw to sperm whales. It was pretty cool, but I was also a tiny little bit disappointed. You couldn´t see them that well and I was hoping for more whales. I also didn´t like that instead of looking for more whales, we did a scenic flight over the peninsula in the end. But it was a nice and great experience after all.
Sperm whales are the biggest whales they have in these waters. They grow up to 20 meters with a weight of over 50 tons (males) or 12m and 15 tons (females). They are the biggest animals with teeth living on this planet. I arrived back at the hostel just in time for the free Sunday pancake breakfast. I sat next to Ben, a guy from Israel. We talked and discovered that we both wanted to do the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway that day and decided to do it together. About 1h later we left the hostel. It was the first nice day again and we enjoyed the sun. The walkway is really beautiful. We took loads of pictures, took a few detours to lookouts and to the seal colony and spent a beautiful afternoon. After 5 hours and 16 km we were back to the hostel.
I ate my leftovers of last night. It was not exactly a lot and I felt like having a beer anyway. So I went to the Groper Garage. When I got back I went to bed. The next morning I checked out, gave away my spices, tent and sleeping back and put a few other things in the free food shelf. Then Suvi and I took off in the direction of Christchurch. Suvi is a Finish girl who was looking for a ride and had responded to my notice that I was driving to Christchurch. The SH1 was open again all the way in both directions and we got through quite well. I dropped her off at her hostel, and then went to a post office to send another parcel back home with the rest of my camping gear that I wanted to keep. I went to Jackson´s place after. He is a Brazilian who I met dancing Zouk when I was in Christchurch a couple of weeks ago and had offered to take me in for the night. He doesn´t have a car but he had asked a friend if she could help me dropping my rental car. So we drove to the Jucy rental place where I returned my car and drove back with Amanda. I had driven 5722 km with this car in 43 days! Not too bad! I had my last supplies for lunch and got some computer stuff done. Nobody wanted to go outside or do something and it was a beautiful day, so I took off on my own. I walked around a bit, visited the Christchurch again and got another great ice cream at the Rollicking.
When I returned more of the flatmates had returned and they were dancing a bit. I also got a few dances in then we had dinner, danced a bit more and went to bed. I had to get up shortly before 3 am in order to catch my flight. Kat had offered to bring me to the airport. She was late, but I got there at 4 am which was still fine. Thank you Kat for giving me a ride in the middle of the night!!! And it was time again to head to another country and leaving my beloved New Zealand!
I was a bit unlucky with the weather in Kaikoura. But on a nice summer day, it is a very beautiful, cute place with lots of possibilities for water activities, seeing dolphins and penguins, horse riding, hiking or just chilling on the beach. Due to the earthquake last year, Kaikoura had been cut off for many months since the SH1 was damaged and closed. Only since a couple of months it was possible to get to there from Christchurch and only for a couple of days also again from the north. It was still a little bit in sleep mode when I got there.
My last day in Christchurch was also nice. Thank you very much Jackson for taking me in, feeding me and dancing with me and organizing people to help with the rental car return and the airport transport. I really appreciate it and I enjoyed dancing with you a lot. Thanks to Amanda and Kat too for the rides!!!
I really love New Zealand and although I have been there for the third time already, I think I will still come back again. I just can´t get enough of this beautiful country with its huge variety in landscapes and its lovely people!