Kaikoura Peninsula

South Island, New Zealand

February 2-3, 2008

Dave and Jill Svilar



Dave and Jill share a romantic moment at the Kaikoura Peninsula parking lot.

After our first sojourn out of our rat-trap city to Arthur's Pass we decided, since the mountains near Christchurch lack snow at this time of year, we'd stick closer to sea-level.  We pointed the Sceptor north towards the town of Kaikoura where tourists are parted with their $$ in the pursuit of catching a glimpse of a whale.  As dedicated dirtballs we chose instead to try and glimpse a whale from afar and have a snoop around at the other feature this area is known for.... where the mountains meet the ocean. 

Only a few places on Earth feature a dramatic mountain range rising directly out of the ocean (at least that I know of).  While not to be confused with Alaska, the Seaward Kaikoura Range do, in their own way, rise dramatically to ~7,000 feet straight out of the saltwater.  Luckily, for people like me who are willing to drive from miles away to behold such a sight, a peninsula juts several miles perpendicularly from this range giving the viewer a perfect perspective.

'Twas the weekend before another long and enjoyable spell of unemployment was to end.  Quite frankly I was dreading it.  Nothing to distract the mind from impending doom like a trip to a new and beautiful place.  We were slow getting out of Christchurch and didn't even reach Kaikoura until late in the evening.  It was a gray, uninspiring evening so we stopped by the local petrol station and shared a 12 lb bag of french fries (chips).

That night, as my stomach bloated and my arteries coagulated I had the first true feeling of joy on an experience that thus far was paying miniscule dividends.  I'm not speaking of the joy of digesting large quantities of fries, no, we spent the night with our feet literally dangling over the Pacific Ocean.  Our exotic Asian Wagon - properly bearing the name "Sceptor" - was purchased several days prior with the hopes that it would be our thrifty version of the New Zealand campervan.  The Sceptor did not disappoint.  We slept with the back open and FULLY stretched out, side by side with the crashing of waves within mere meters. 

As the first light began to show my photo-dork senses went on full alert as a special sunrise was brewing over the Pacific.  Judging by the rasping sounds Jill was making a drive to a prime photo spot was out of the question.  Luckily, upon closer inspection of the beach outside the Sceptor which had been too dark to see the previous night, I happily realized that sufficient beauty was just a few feet away.  I spent the next two hours madly snapping frames, totally absorbed in my own world and oblivious to the horror I would face in the coming days.  This is what the spiritually enlightened call "The Power of Now" and what I call a lot of fun. 

Jill finally wobbled out of the back of the Sceptor, plucked a few odd hairs on her face and we were off to the peninsula for a sunny, delightful day of walking.  The end of the peninsula features a small, but fun track that heads out across the top of the bluffs with the option to return along the coastline.  Being a short track and me being determined to spend as much of the day as possible away from the city we ambled at a record slow pace enjoying each and every possible sight, sound and smell.  Besides a run-in Jill had with a seal nothing of great rememberance occurred.  However, the FEELING I had that glorious summer afternoon and the previous night camped beside the ocean will stay with me forever.



Photos taken at sunrise only a few meters from the Sceptor.


Jill can't hide her morning face in this frame while Dave uses the sleeping bag to cover his morning .....



Scenes from the Sceptor that was parked within meters of the Pacific Ocean.  Paradise!




Near the start of the track.  From a photography perspective I can't wait to return when the mountains get snow.




That cute little Fur Seal scared the !#@%! out of Jill.  She calmed down soon after realizing seals aren't the swiftest land creatures.




The coastal portion of the track on the Kaikoura Peninsula.

-written February 2008

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