Taking the back Roads


Day 53 – Kaikoura

Waking up to the sound of rain battering to roof of the van wasn’t the best start to the day but according to the forecast, that’s what it’s going to be like for the next four days ☹. This doesn’t stop me from carrying though, after a few chores around the van I was off again, singing in the rain as I travel north along SH1. The plan today is to get to Kaikoura. Aquaplaning my way through Amberley and on to Waipara to find that SH1 has been closed because of the severe weather and the chance of slips on to the road. I head back down to the detour and spot a sign for the Waipara Hills winery. Bit early in the day for drinking wine but I’m sure tasting it is fine 😊.


Inside the winery was nicely presented with high ceilings and exposed timber beams, their wine on display on either side of the entrance, some seating and some gifts to left and their café to the right. The lady doing the tastings was very good, knew her stuff and explained any questions that I had along the way. I sampled 7 wines in the end, starting off with a couple of their different Rieslings, then to the Sauvignon Blanc’s before trying their multi award winning Pinot Gris, last was their Rose’ and Pinot Noir. All great tasting wines but choosing to take a bottle of the Pinot Noir and sauvignon blanc.


Back in the van I head back to the detour and make the long back road trip through to Kaikoura. The weather was quite bad with low cloud or heavy rain battering the van all the way. There was road works and slips to contend with as well, which made for an even longer trip. Once at Kaikoura I did a quick drive around the town before heading to the information centre to book some of the regions famous activities for the next few days.


Kiakoura was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earth quake in November 2016 causing damage throughout the region. Causing structural damage to buildings, roads to crack open and hills to slip, leaving most of the area cut off to supply’s. This is why I had to take the long way around and SH1 north from the town will be closed until the end of the year, as they clear the landslides and repair the road. Its been reported that some areas were shifted 5 meters towards the North Island in the shake and the seabed rising all around the coast.


The town is a major tourist attraction with its famous Whale watching as well as other wildlife and scenic tours. But because they were cut off for quite some time, the town has been hit hard with the lack of tourists. But when I arrived, I was glad to see the town is carrying on as normal, well as normal as it can do in the situation, and tourist are starting to make their way back. I even had to go on a waiting list if I wanted to go on the Whale watch tour.


After booking a few things it was time to find a camp for the night. I found a small freedom camp north of the town right on the coast. The weather was still really bad but that wasn’t stopping a few keen surfers to take to the water. After dinner, the weather cleared for a bit and the visible signs of the damage and slips further up SH1 was pretty obvious. Time for an early night before tomorrow’s exciting adventures.


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