Kia Ora! (that’s “hello” in Maori)
We were in New Zealand or as the Maori people call it, Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud). Hubby and I had already spent a couple of weeks driving across North Island. We had enjoyed the relaxed city vibe of Auckland, the geysers of Rotorua, the glowworm caves of Waitomo and of course, the extremely scenic drive through North Island.
From Wellington, we took the Interslander ferry that morning to Picton, South Island and were on our way to Christchurch. En route, we drove into an idyllic, romantic town called Kaikoura.
As we approached Kaikoura on State Highway 1, to our left was the expansive Pacific Ocean with its myriad shades of blue. On our right, the imposing snow-capped Kaikoura mountains. We pulled over to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty for a few minutes.
The name Kaikoura, I’m told, is said to have originated from the Maori words ‘kai’ meaning food and ‘koura’ meaning crayfish. Implying a place where you eat crayfish. So we did exactly that!
Our first night in Kaikoura, we dined at a cozy seafood restaurant, along the main street. Hubby, quite the foodie, ordered the legendary crayfish and relished his first experience of the local delicacy.
Kaikoura has a long history as a whaling town, until commercial whaling ended in New Zealand in the mid-60s. Whale watching began in Kaikoura in 1987 and today, it is one of the best places in the world to watch the sperm whale and other marine mammals in their natural habitat.
The next morning, we booked ourselves on the Whale Watch Kaikoura tour and waited with eager anticipation for the tour to begin. The sea was particularly rough that morning and we were advised to reschedule if we were prone to seasickness. But nothing could deter me from catching a glimpse of the magnificent sperm whale.
More on our thrilling whale watch experience in my post, Meet Moby Dick in Kaikoura, NZ.
Read Hangi’ing out in Rotorua, NZ for more on our culinary journey across New Zealand.