27 October 2019
After 3 days in Auckland and a further 11 days on the road, during which period we drove 1,913 kilometres, it’s time for us to leave North Island. From our boutique hotel accommodation at Bushy Park we drive for about 90 minutes to the airport at Palmerston North.
On the way we pass through the town of Bulls, which boasts several life size representations of the animal in question modelled out of resin or bronze or whatever. And there’s also a large sign bearing the legend: “Bulls, there’s no udder place like it!” I’m easily amused, so that pun makes my day.
The flight to Christchurch in the South Island takes about an hour. The weather is fine and visibility is good, so Mrs P takes full advantage of her window seat and snaps away merrily at the snow clad mountains and rugged coastline, and the distinctively shaped Kaikoura peninsula.
Christchurch airport is remarkably efficient, and within a few minutes of landing we’ve picked up the second Toyota Camry of our trip, and head north towards Kaikoura, the very place over which we were flying less than an hour ago.
The outskirts of Christchurch have little to recommend them, but as we move further north the traffic thins out and the landscape gets more interesting. The weather is almost perfect, and the gales and torrential rain of North Island already seem like a distant memory.
The black sandy beaches are alien to our eyes, but strangely atmospheric. Not an obvious choice for a beach holiday, but that’s not why Mrs P and I are here.
The late afternoon light illuminates the towering Cathedral Cliffs at Gore Bay, on the approach to Kaikoura. Unusually these are inland cliffs, facing away from the sea, and the rock columns remind us of the pipes of a monstrous church organ.
On the outskirts of Kaikoura we call in at Peninsula Point. Rocks of all shapes and sizes rise out of the sea. Behind, we can see the snow-capped mountains over which we were flying just a few hours ago. This place is so picturesque; all it needs is a fur seal or two and it would be perfect.
And there he is, our first fur seal, lounging lazily on the rocks. Wild mammals were thin on the ground in North Island, and we’re hoping for better things on South Island. If Peninsula Point is anything to go by, we won’t be disappointed.
I think I’m going to like this place.