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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Preening on a rock
08/01/2008, Off Fyffe House

And two shag-like birds, but with shining white chests.

Places and people
Elegance on a rock
08/01/2008, Armers Beach

The Kaikoura Canyon runs very close to the land hereabouts, an offshoot of the much longer Hikurangi Trench. Cold water wells up, meeting warm coastal shallows. Southern Ocean freezing seas meet the sun-warmed Pacific. Marine life flourishes, from the tiny krill that feed birds and baleen whales, to the orcas and humpbacks that chase seals and migrate through the Cook Strait to breed in Australian waters.
We don't know many of the birds at all, but here is a rock herons, looking elegant.

Places and people
Cliff walks and views
08/01/2008, Kaikoura Peninsula

Over the last fifteen months, a new day walk has opened up around the peninsula. This has splendid cliff views, the sea fading into the limitless distance. Next stop (so long as you're not blown too far south); Chile!
It's a great walk, supposedly about three hours, but we took nearer five what with stopping to ooh at the views, take pictures, climb down and up cliffs and chat to amiable acquaintances met on the way.
Inland of the peninsula are the Kaikoura Seaward mountains, shown here in cloud wreathed portentousness. For a while these were called the Lookers On, but then people realised that Cook gave the name to the peninsula itself. When he first sailed this coast, 57 Maori came out and looked at the Endeavour from their wakas, but refused to come close enough for contact. He named the almost-island the Lookers On after these people, but fortunately the prettier Maori name has stuck.
The name means 'eating crayfish' (kai, food and kouri, crayfish, which are superabundant in the waters here).

Places and people
Geology moment
08/01/2008, Kaikoura peninsula

Kaikoura peninsula was an island, created by limestone escarpments pushed skywards by tectonic action. It's directly on the faultline between the Pacific and the Indo-Australian plates, and is being pushed upwards by about 10mm a year. Erosion keeps the heights roughly constant. Silted gravel has created the narrow spit which now connects to the mainland.
Folded limestone created the great plates that jut out into the sea, the rocks that encircle the coast and the vertiginous cliffs. It is full of nutrients, so plants can flourish even in tiny cracks of the rocks where they get hit by salt spray and baked in the hot sun of this dry east coast.
The beaches alternate between the black of volcanic dust and the blinding white of limestone, all littered with rubble, boulders, strands and tangles of bull kelp and innumerable balls of seaweed. Your steps clatter and rustle between sand, shingle, and the popping of the weed, a little like unwrapping accompanied by stress relief sessions with bubble wrap.

Places and people
Birds everywhere
08/01/2008, Whaler's Bay, Kaikoura

Kaikoura peninsula is an extraordinary place, for its geology and wildlife as well as its history. Of course these are all intertwined.
For the Maori, it is where Maui rested his foot on the thwart of his waka (canoe), which is the rest of the South Island, as he hauled up the fish which is the North Island. It is one of the first places they settled in the South Island, and it was intensely fought over for hundreds of years between the different iwi. (Iwi is often translated as tribe, but you can belong to more than one iwi at a time.) There are remains of several fortified villages (called pa), and many Maori names attesting to its importance.
The Europeans first arrived as whalers, establishing five shore-bases for this bloody trade on the peninsula alone. Rapidly, the peninsula became a major trading centre predicated on whaling and fishing. That industrial base has now collapsed, and for a time Kaikoura really struggled.
Now its fortunes have been rebuilt as a centre of ecotourism. Whale watching, swimming with seals, kayaking, following the albatross alongside the more mundane walks, rides and scads of organic food. We have a whale watch planned for Wednesday.
The peninsula is a haven for bird life, little of which we have yet identified. Here is a red-billed gull, one of the huge breeding colony on the shattering white of the limestone beach at Whaler's Bay.

Places and people
Tide in
08/01/2008, Kean Point

And this is the same place six hours later. Just a few sharp rocks to show the water inshore is inches deep.

Places and people
Extraordinary landscapes
Windy at night very wet in the morning then fine
08/01/2008, Kean Point, Kaikoura

Dinner was a sumptuous crayfish, bought from a roadside stall. A tiny squeeze of lemon, a fresh salad with the Spy Valley olive oil, fresh bread. Yummy.
We parked for the night beside the road on Kaikoura peninsula. The sign said 'no camping' but we think this meant tents; in many places they specifically ban overnight parking as well. It was a lovely spot, empty with a view directly out onto the darkening Pacific. Birds chirruped in the reeds and along the mud and the waves washed up and down on the sand.
There is a terrific tidal range just here. The picture is the extraordinary tidal flats at Kean Point (also the home of a large fur seal colony), completely uncovered at low tide.

Places and people
Kokeno
07/01/2008, Parikawa

We left Rarangi after a leisurely start. State highway 1 took us into Blenheim and a diversion to visit Marlborough wineries. Well, you've got to, don't you. First up, a very new boutique vineyard, Gibson Bay, where we bought a lovely bottle of Gewurztraminer which we're saving to have with a good curry. Then to Spy Valley, a well-established and large business. They also do olive oil and we acquired a bottle for its citrus smell and peppery follow-through; perfect for salads.
Driving down State Highway One, we stopped at one of the few pull-off points, at Kekerengu (named after a particularly nasty figure from Maori legends) We walked a little on the black beach looking at the little river which rushes into the sea, so narrow you can step across it even as it empties into the Pacific.
A little further on, at Parikawa, Pip spotted fur seals! Lounging on the rocks, occasionally having a half-hearted set to, whether for passion or territory wasn't clear (at least to us; presumably they know the difference!)
We took lots of pictures; this one shows up the bull's mane. Females are smaller and don't have the ruff. Saves on bad hair days. In Maori they are called kokeno.


Places and people
The Magic Wagon
Sunny
06/01/2008, Picton

Here is our new home for the next three months, Puff the Magic Wagon. Many, many thanks to Millie who found the van and sorted everything out, making the start of our trip pretty painless.
The sweet dog is the other Pip, Millie's rescued puppy. Pip loves the van and very much wanted to join us, but to this Pip's disappointment, Millie wouldn't let her go.
This has all been written and posted from our first nights stop at the beach at Rarangi between Picton and Blenheim. It's a volcanic beach with thick stones and gritty sand. There's a Department of Conservation (DOC) site, at the right price of $6 each, so we haven't got to put our new portaloo to the test just yet. It's raining, windy and quite cold but we're very snug in here.

Places and people
Sunset
Beautiful
05/01/2008, Queen Charlotte Sound

The Queen Charlotte Sound treated us to a beautiful sunset. It started off as a bruise of yellow and black and gradually faded to a pink and grey fan laid out across the hills.
Many yachts were tucked away in the coves of the sound, lying peacefully to anchor in smooth water.

Places and people
The inter-islander
Cold in the wind
05/01/2008, Cook Strait

The ferry across the Cook Strait was a smooth ride. Although there was quite a breeze it was from the North West so the sea was flat. No dolphins. These are the hills of the north of the south island fading into the early evening mist.

Places and people
Magical places
Guess
03/01/2008, Rivendell

Rivendell was established in this woodland for the filming of the Lord of the Rings, and the main palace of Elrond was just around this bend in the river.

Places and people

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