Some months back, we did our first South Island road trip from Christchurch to Nelson. I have been procrastinating writing about the trip because it was a rather big trip and I really did not know where to start. Now, with less hours of work I am able to secure this coming few weeks, I decided what better way to spend the extra free hours than to recap this road trip.
Our first thought was to drive through the middle of South Island, through Arthur’s Pass and Hanmer Springs. This is supposed to be the shortest route from Lincoln to Nelson (State Highway 7 & 6). There were already snow caps on the mountains from the distance and we can only imagine it would be a really scenic and beautiful drive through that region.
As much as I wanted to see the best of New Zealand mountain scenes, I was also very worried about the roads being closed due to heavy snowfall. I almost bought a set of (expensive) snow chains just for this trip but when I found out that I can only drive at a maximum speed of about 25 to 30km/hour with snow chains on, I thought I’d just save the money for a whole year supply of fish & chips. Safety first always, we decided against the ‘scenic’ mountainous route and opted for the coastal drive instead.
We started our journey early in the morning. It will be a few hours drive for me and even a tougher job for Meun to keep the Yang one occupied through those hours. Our first stop is Kaikora, about 2 hours drive from Christchurch. A place famous for Seals that comes to the beaches to sun bath and relax. One of my workmates told me about a small waterfall no too far from Kaikora that is frequented by Seals all year round. One time he visited the place, there we literally hundreds of Seals at the waterfall. Something we had to track down and see for ourselves.
The drive towards Kaikora was pretty easy initially. But Oaro onwards, the road starts to run parrelal, close to the sea. That’s when the roads gets a bit tricky due to the curves and beautiful sceneries. One can’t really concentrate when there is so much things to look at all around. The railway line is running on our left, we drove through tunners, zig zags on tight bends and throughout all this, kept our eyes peeled for a place to stop To make things worse, most stretches of this one lane road has a speed limit of 100km/h. I drove at a steady 85 km/h to 90 km/h and still some locals seems to give me that ‘you are hogging the road‘ look.
At Kaikora, we went straight to the beach. We needed to stretch our legs and I needed a break from that stressful drive. Malaysia really do have way better highway than New Zealand. But then again, there are no tolls to pay here. There wasn’t many people on Kaikora beach that day. The only other group of people we saw was another Asian family. Where is everyone?
Our day one itinerary involves the coastal drive, Kaikora to see the Seals and an overnight at Blenheim. If we drove from Lincoln direct to Blenheim without any breaks, we would probably have done it in 4 to 5 hours. The scenery along the way up to Kaikora has been amazing but the best is yet to come. Having rested for about an hour at the beach, we packed up our car and started our search for the Seals.