Photo shows the Seaward Kaikoura Range from Kaikoura's wharf. Mount Fyffe is the lower, broad peak, middle left at 1,600m. Manakau is the highest of the Seawards at 2,600m, middle centre.
We are up at the top end of the South Island, preparing for our first real walk - an easy stroll along the Abel Tasman coastline. It's normally one of NZ's most popular walking tracks, particularly in summer, so hopefully quiet at the moment.
We have spent a few days in Kaikoura on the South Island East coast. We've passed through a few times over the years, but haven't actually taken time to explore the peninsula itself since 1978 (!) Then, the little town was just a fishing village and seals and whales were there to be hunted or shot.
Most of the residents here now make a living from taking tourists out on the sea to see the sperm and humpback whales and several species of dolphins that come close to the coast here. There are also a lot of seabirds, especially shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses. Fur seals have expanded in large numbers all along this coast since a ban on hunting. There must be thousands of seals between Ohau Point, where the larger colony is to the North, and the peninsula itself.
Fur seals on the Kaikoura Coast
The 2016 earthquake resulted in 2 to 4 metres of seabed being raised along the entire coast. The town and the environment is generally only now recovering.
The two high snow covered mountain ranges, the Seaward and Inland Kaikouras, march along parallel to, and very close to, the coast, making for spectacular scenery when the sun is shining. The country between the ranges is one of NZ's latest conservation areas, Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia
, easy to access, but rugged once you get there, in the valley of the Clarence River.
We both climbed Mount Fyffe, almost by accident, back in December 1978. It was the first walk we did together and almost the last!
We had camped at the base of the mountain in a hinau forest, then left everything behind to climb to the top. By the time we got near the peak, it was almost dark and there was ice on the track. We found a hut and made a fire and helped ourselves to food and coffee that had been left inside. We didn't know at the time,but this was one of the country's 900 strong back country huts built and maintained for the public to use (then by the NZ Forest Service, now by DOC). In the past, we haven't always used DOC huts and have preferred to camp, but they can be a life saver!
Cabbage trees along the peninsula walk
Looking South along the head of the peninsula, raised seabed clearly visible.
The Seaward Kaikouras across the Northern bay.