We take the train to Kaikoura today. We arrive at the station in Kaikoura and there is no uber and no regular taxis. There is only one guy with a passenger van who will give rides from the train station. He has a business card but doesn’t seem to be always available for rides. I arrange a ride in the morning to the dock for my whale watching boat (at the time I didn’t realize it is in walking distance from my hotel). Anyway, it is hard to get around here without a car unless you don’t mind walking a while.
The ride to Kaikoura is beautiful with an open air observation car at the back of the train (think cattle car).
Hotel in Kaikoura – Lobster Inn Motor Lodge
My aunt has a sunset kayak tour scheduled for the evening. We originally thought I would be joining her but I have done some damage to my shoulders while traveling. I am pretty sure ocean kayaking is not in the cards for me at this time. Unfortunately due to rough seas her tour gets cancelled for the evening. She hopes to do a paddle tomorrow sometime during the day instead.
We arrive early enough for lunch. We visit the cafe across the street where I get to try green-lipped mussels. They are large and quite tasty.
I go to bed early because I have an early morning boat ticket for whale watching tomorrow. Kaikoura is supposed to be a magnificent place to see whales and other sea animals.
There is a 6:45 arrival time for my tour, the first tour of the day. My driver drops me off on time at the office. Once I arrive I come to find out that both my cruise and the cruise scheduled immediately after is cancelled due to rough seas. There are people in line already to reschedule for a later time but most of the other times this morning are already booked. The only time I can reschedule is for the afternoon but doing so would make me miss our train ride that we have booked back to Christchurch. I am disappointed. I usually schedul multiple days in a location in case something like this happens but in this case I did not.
My aunt goes on her kayaking tour this morning as scheduled. I plan to meet up with her later in town. I decide to walk back to the motel from the whale office instead of trying to find the one taxi guy in town. It is a nice walk along the beach.
I spend a couple hours making some phone calls that are much needed to the USA. I have a short window to take care of business by phone since our days are their nights and vice-versa.
After I take care of things I walk down to town. It is a cute little town. I see signs for crayfish everywhere but I am too cheap to order it so instead I end up getting a huge fried flounder and chips at Strawberry Tree Kaikoura. While the fish below is quite tasty, I regret passing up the crayfish because later when I get serious about trying it before I leave New Zealand I end up paying even more for it and end up disappointed. It is probably much fresher in Kaikoura.
My aunt finally meets up with me and helps me finish the fish. She has a photo of the bones and asked if I wanted to post it but it isn’t pretty so I’ll forgo the photo.
We have a little more time to kill before we pick up our luggage so we visit the local museum Kaikōura Museum. It gives a little taste of the history of the area. There is a good exhibit that talks about the major earthquake that occurred in 2016. A great deal of damage had been done to the coast, roads and tunnels. It is said to have pushed the south island 5km closer to the north island.
We head back to get our luggage and then to the train. We are heading back to Christchurch to overnight before our day trip to Arthur’s Pass tomorrow.
Kaikoura is beautiful and I am very sad I didn’t get to see whales during my visit. If I ever make it back to New Zealand it is definitely on my list again – next time for more days.
Video of train ride to Kaikoura