you can plan a pretty picnic but you can't predict the weather

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Monday, 1 October 2007 : Filed under: Marlborough E-Mail This Article

Kaikoura Sheep
Sheep chowing down on the Kaikoura Peninsula – Kaikoura, New Zealand


Comment by josh — October 1, 2007 @ 4:42 pm

Our next stop heading north from Christchurch was the small town of Kaikoura, known for whales and crayfish. Kaikoura (Maori for “to eat crayfish”) was originally built as a whaling town and continued that way until whaling was outlawed (I forget when exactly). Now they still make money off of whales, but it comes from whale watching and the tourism industry.

Several kinds of whales come through the Kaikoura ocean including sperm, blue, humpback, etc. The ocean there has a huge canyon in it. We were told it was one of the largest (maybe the largest) in the world… but you never know how much you should believe when kiwis tell you things like that. Sometimes their world ends at the New Zealand border.

Kaikoura was really beautiful. On one side you have impressive mountain ranges, and on the other awesome coastline and blue ocean. It has now joined several other places on my list of favorite places in New Zealand. It would be perfect if you had some money to spend and wanted to spend a few days doing fun activities on the sea.

We spent a while at the information site deciding what we wanted to do in Kaikoura. We both wanted to eat a New Zealand crayfish (or spiny rock lobster as it also goes by) before leaving the country, and this seemed like the place to do it. The only problem was, in town the crayfish ran about $80 each. We decided to charter a fishing boat and hope to pull up some crays of our own.

The plan was to take a nice scenic walk around the peninsula and then catch our boat for a couple of hours on the sea. The walk was really nice with great coastal views (and sheep, as you can see above) all around. When we got to the end of the track though, we found out the sea was too rough, and our boat wouldn’t make it out that day. Luckily our plans were flexible, and we rescheduled for the next day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around the coast, and found a roadside seafood BBQ where we were able to feed our seafood craving. I had a whitebait sandwich, which is something I had been wanting to try for some time. Whitebait is a fish popular with locals. It is a baby fish about the size of a minnow, caught in coastal streams with nets as the fish migrate back from the ocean where they were born. The whitebait season is only three months long, and had just started. A whole bunch of whitebait is cooked up in something like a mixture of pancake and omelet batter, and grilled in a patty and served in a sandwich. It did not disappoint.

The next morning we woke up early and this time managed to get out on the ocean for a couple of hours of fishing. We first went out to pull up some cray pots, hoping to pull up a crayfish we could eat for dinner. The first couple were empty, and we were bumming out. Then we pulled one up with a cray in it. We were both excited, but then it turned out to be a female with eggs so we couldn’t take her. We thought we’d be getting no crayfish, but then our skipper spied a pot he had put in some rocks a few days back. The seas had been too rough to go get it recently, but he thought we could get it now. We boated in there and pulled it up. Three crays were inside. We got to keep the big one.

Next we went out further into the sea and dropped our lines in the ocean, down about 65 meters. It was a feeding frenzy down there, and we pulled up fish after fish. The skipper informed us they were soldier fish, and at the end of the day he filleted (???) them for us. One thing of note here: in NZ they pronounce fillet as it it spelled (fill-et), not how we do (fill-ay).

The fishing trip was great. On the boat we also saw some blue penguins (the world’s smallest), fur seals swimming, and a few very impressive albatros (a HUGE sea bird).

Comment by josh — October 1, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

Wow, that was a long post. We really had a great time in Kaikoura though. I also have a lot of really good photos and it was hard for me to pick which one to put up as the main entry. Here are some more that we like.

The coast leading back into town with the Kaikoura Range as a backdrop

The sea with the Kaikoura Range in the background

A bay view from our peninsula walk

A Royal Albatros taking off after grabbing some fish from the sea (probably a 6 foot wingspan)

Beth holding our dinner

The first fish we reeled in

The last photo deserves a bit more of an explanation, as it was so funny (to me). Beth had been feeling a bit sea sick – her stomache gets easily upset. Anyways, I had just reeled up my first catch, which was actually two fish, and Beth had one on the line as well. She was slowly reeling hers in, and I guess fighting off nausea. She gets hers on the boat, and our skipper is asking for my camera. I hand it to him and am posing with my fish, but for some reason he’s not taking the photo. I look over and instead of posing for the photo, Beth is sending her Cheerios over the side of the boat. I tried to get the skipper to take a photo anyways, as I thought that would be priceless, but he waited for Beth to recover and then took the one you see above.

Comment by brohan — October 1, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

Great pic of the albatross.

Funnily enough, I have a picture very similar to the one you have with the Kaikoura range in the background, but both times I was in Kaikoura it was really overcast, so I didn’t even know it was back there!

Comment by jeremi clark — October 2, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

These pics are BEAUTIFUL. Are the sheep wild or belong to someone? Poor bethany. No offense to her, but a pic of her vomiting off the side of the boat would have been funny. Maybe not at first for her but definitely later. :)

Comment by Clara — October 2, 2007 @ 3:52 pm

The photos are all lovely. In fact, they’re breath-taking. I’ve never seen an albatross. Thanks for posting the pictures and narrative about your fishing expedition. Beth would never have forgiven you if you’d posted a photo of her barfing. Even before I read the narrative, I thought she looked somewhat uncomfortable. I can well understand. About 20 years ago, Hal’s uncle arranged for him, Hal and me to go on a charter salmon fishing boat off the coast of Oregon. It was a great experience; however, the choppiness was really bad. Are you headed to the North Island directly or are you returning to Queenstown before heading to Aukland?

Comment by josh — October 2, 2007 @ 8:34 pm

Glad you guys like the photos. The scenery was beautiful, so getting good shots was easy. The sheep all belong to someone. I’m not exactly sure how they determine whose are whose, although some have different colored spots painted on them.

Clara, your post was funny. I remember when you went on that fishing trip. I remember the photo of all the fish you caught.

We are headed straight to the North Island. Have to get back to Auckland with time to sell the van.

Comment by dadman — October 4, 2007 @ 11:48 am

How was dinner? I assume it was pretty much like a lobster. Didn’t know there were giant crayfish like that. Remember when you and Doug cooked crawdads for dinner? And how were the soldier fish? Did you have a close up pic of them? They look pretty cool. The whitebait sound sort of like smelt.

Comment by Peg Moore — October 5, 2007 @ 11:42 am

What a wonderful bunch of pictures. You are seeing parts of NZ that I didn’t get to. Uncle Dale & I didn’t get north of Ackland on the North Island and most of what we saw on the South Island was when we took a tour bus from Queensland to the fjord that is famous. We did get to walk around Christchurch and Queensland and dearly loved it. But of course we did see some things you didn’t(at least so far). Keep on having great adventures and we will want to hear all about them when you get back(if you decide to come back!).
Love, Grandpa & Rosemary
P.S. We have just arrived for a short with with your folks here in Michigan.

Comment by josh — October 6, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

Yeah like lobster. It was really good. Soldier fish was really good too. We couldn’t eat it all though. After two meals we were through about half of it, but couldn’t stand the thought of another fish meal for a few days haha. Will see if I can find a pic.

Good to hear from you Grandpa. I look forward to comparing our New Zealand trips.

Comment by Steve — October 7, 2007 @ 11:00 pm

hahah awesome, I finally managed to check this! :) Love the fish it looks like John Dory

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