Kaikoura to Nelson

The rough plan was the next couple of days was to ride from Kaikoura to Nelson in a day, then either do a day ride to Takaka or back the next day, or to go to Takaka, spend a couple of nights there, then return to Picton the day after. The weather appeared to dictate the latter because I was going to get at least one rainy day and it made sense to do all the riding on the days before.

The route from Kaikoura to Nelson started off promisingly with a gorgeous coastal road past the ocean. I observed amusedly to myself that even though I hadn’t done Highway 1 in California, I was doing it in New Zealand! :) I stopped briefly at Oahu to observe the seal colony and spied quite a few baby seals. Cute!


After the road turned inland, it got pretty dull and I started to get bored. About an hour more of this and I finally passed through Picton. Soon after I entered the Queen Charlotte Drive was turned out to be half an hour of very tight 20-30 kmph corners. It really put my cornering skills to the test. At the same time, I quite found myself enjoying it. As usual, the only times I cursed was when I would see stunning glimpses of the Marlborough Sounds and there weren’t many places to stop and take a photo. I told myself I would take photos on the way back. The color of the water made me gasp. How do they get it that blue-green?!

Before I knew it, I was in Nelson where I got a dorm for the night at the YHA. They let me park in their garage so I had secure parking for the night. The dorm room was really neat too. It was huge even though it had only six beds in it.

The next day I would ride to Takaka and spend a night there.

Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura

This was supposed to be a short pleasant ride. All I had to do that day was to get out of Hanmer Springs, turn off a country road and follow it all the way to Kaikoura. I did a part of this right. I did turn off of a country road that turned out to be divine, magical, lyrical, if you could call a road lyrical. It was full of twisties and went past beautiful rural landscapes that looked like they were straight out of a child’s storybook. Narrow curved roads, golden rolling hills, the occasional flock of sheep, an occassional church, barn or abandoned shed, this is a road I have dreamt about, not knowing where to find it.

It ended way too soon and I was abruptly deposited onto a busy motorway with semi trucks bearing down on me, a little too close for comfort. I found later that I had taken the wrong road – Parnassus St. and Leader Road, instead of Mount Lytton Road. I didn’t know if I was upset about this or not. On the one hand, I missed a reportedly beautiful road which would have taken me all the way to Kaikoura and kept me from the rude shock of riding on the motorway and getting back to reality. On the other hand, perhaps that road wasn’t as idyllic as the one that I accidentally stumbled on? I guess I will never know unless I go back and find out.

The ride along the motorway was very beautiful as it wound past the Pacific Ocean (my first view of the ocean on the other side!) but the wind was strong and there were too many trucks blasting past me on the other side. My entire time on the South Island has been on roads with very little traffic and I had begun to forget the rest of the world a little.


On the other side of the Pacific Ocean


I arrived in Kaikoura well before lunchtime and checked in to the Albatross B&B. The room I was in was the tiniest I’ve stayed in but we had an entire lounge area and kitchen for ourselves. Also, I lucked out with really cool roommates who were fun to hang out with.


I spied a flock of cormorants hanging by the water.


In the afternoon, I decided to do the Coastal Peninsula Walk which went around the entire tip of the peninsula, promising views of wildlife and epic scenery. It did not fail to disappoint! I didn’t see much wildlife outside of a bunch of seals and some birds but the scenery was consistently staggering. I took my time walking slowly and taking it all in so it took me almost an hour and a half to walk from town to the very tip of the peninsula where the ocean looked nothing short of majestic. It was very windy on account of the remnants of Hurricane Pam blowing over and the water was churning and turbulent.