Monday, 22 October 2012

Road Trip: Day Two

We woke the next day eager to continue our pattern of spotting amazing wildlife and set out on the road in search of a little known of place which I had been tipped off about by a couple of friends. 

Twenty minutes North of Kaikoura is a blue caravan called 'Nin's Bin', a famous purveyor of crayfish and a favourite stop on a traditional Kiwi family holiday. The delicacy itself was a little out of our modest price range (the smallest fish priced at $56, going up beyond the $100 mark), but the stop off made worthwhile by a bunch of Chinese tourists who insisted on having their picture taken with their intended lunch before it was cut in half and cooked. The crayfish didn't seem to happy about partaking in a cheesy holiday snap!

Ten minutes further down the road, I'd been told to look for a car park on the right which would be marked with a sign reading 'waterfall walk'. We only just caught sight of it and quickly pulled in, amongst a handful of other campers.

I'd been told that in the basin of water beneath the waterfall, mother seals would leave their babies during the winter months while they went off to hunt in the sea. You won't find any info on this site in guidebooks or the net, as the conservationists are trying to keep its location under wraps, so I was lucky to hear about it.

We weren't sure if we'd be too late, it being the start of spring already. But as the sound of the falling water reached our ears, our eyes were greeted with the sight of several streaking black creatures, snaking in and out of the water. Tears of amazement came to my eyes. I couldn't believe how lucky we were to catch this rare sight. 

The seals happen upon the spot every year, while searching for somewhere to rest away from predators. The infants spend the first 12 months of their life there, frolicking in the water, sleeping on the rocks and in the woods and eventually venturing down the river to the shore when they get hungry. Only around half of them will make it into adulthood when they leave the safety and seclusion of their shelter for the open sea.

Wandering back to the camper, still caught in a trance of wonderment, we set off to Nelson, the Northern-most city of the south island. To get there, we passed through the picturesque Marlborough sounds and enjoyed the stunning views of the Queens Charlotte Drive.

By the time we reached Nelson, the sky had turned from brilliant blue to moody grey and the heavens began to open. After a desperate hour or so trying to find somewhere to park up for the night, we came across a good campsite in Ruby Bay, opposite the tree covered Rabbit Island and settled in for a dinner of sausage and soup!

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