Ok, this is just for fun. But as the original intention of "General Tips" is to chat a bit about favourite things and fondest memories, this is surely one of them. And this is remarkable, as seagulls can be nasty, noisy and annoying birds, permanently screaming, squeaking, fighting and arguing about nearly everything. And they are absolutely weird when you want to feed ducks, flying into groups of greedy waddlies like stukkas in World War II.
But I love this photo out of a series I have taken of this red-billed gull at Point Kean on the Peninsula.
Fondest memory: So this red-billed gull sat on the sign over an information panel about New Zealand Fur Seals, as they are all over the place, and looked down at the sign. Either wondering if he could believe what was written there, or driven by the wish to make visitors believe he was a fur seal ;-) Or he thought: "If I will ever be stuffed and exhibited in a museum, I would at least be identified correctly."
The red-billed gulls BTW are abundant in New Zealand, and although they can be annoying, I think they are beautiful with their red bills and legs and the red ring around the eyes.
The black-billed gull is rather rare.
The road between Oaro and Kaikoura is one of the more interesting coastal drives in the South Island. The road curves along beside the sea on one side and hills on the other. In several places the hills reach down and touch the sea so, with a bit of imagination, the hills have had holes knocked into them to allow easy passage.
The sea shore you follow changes as you move from Oaro - you really need to stop and talk a walk to see what I mean - due to the several different types of environment. This is in spite of the impression that it's all rocky sea shore.
Once seal hunters killed thousands and thousands of seals on the Kaikoura coast. Now, as those animals’ population is thriving, there is a new threat. Fisherman are asking that the protection of seals should be removed because the seals compete with them for fish. The director of Talley’s Fisheries had even said that the “cute brown-eyed für seals” were a general misconception, and they should be culled. He said NZ’s fur seals ate 300,000 tonnes of fish a year, more than the annual commercial catch of 270,000 tonnes a year. And the seals’ diet included ling, crayfish, blue cod, red cod, paua, hoki, blue fin and yellow-eyed penguins.
Exactly now, as I write this, a story has been published in the Dominion Post, The Press and other newspapers that Talley’s and other fishermen’s claim cannot be supported by scientific research.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) examined 133 faecal samples and 15 regurgitations from seals at Tonga Island in the Abel Tasman National Park. The lab tests showed that the seals mostly ate anchovy, pilchard, jack mackerel and squid, and this was similar to their diet of squid and oily fish in other parts of New Zealand. So the seals do not eat the species the fishing industry and recreational fishermen are after. The abundance and size of blue moki and blue cod have even increased since the Tonga Island Marine Reserve was established in 1993.
Good news for the seals :-)
At the time of whaling you must imagine Kaikoura somehow like an island on the mainland. Due to the rugged coastline at the proximity of the Kaikoura Ranges to the sea it was very difficult to reach the place on the landway. Many dangerous river crossings were involved.
So most connection with the outside world was by sea then. This was dangerous as well, many shipwrecks dotted the rough coastline. The port of entry was near Fyffe House at Point Kean.
This was only closed in 1949 when road construction and the railway line were finished. The railway line from Christchurch to Picton – now the TranzCoastal track – opened in 1945. The construction of the road was a major effort as well. Lots of bridges had to be constructed, and 21 tunnels were drilled.
The first shore whaling station in Kaikoura was established in 1843 by Captain Robert Fyffe, located near where Fyffe House still stands today. (As you can read in another tip, Fyffe house stands on piles of whale bones.) Other whaling stations soon followed at South Bay – the site where now the boats of Whale Watch Kaikoura depart.
At some point the whaling industry employed more than one hundred men in the Kaikoura district. But whale numbers steadily declined after 1850, and the exploitation of them became un-economic.
Although whalers looked for other jobs, many going into fishing and farming, whaling continued sporadically. But only in 1964 New Zealand’s last whaling operations stopped.
The whale watching business started in 1989, and today New Zealand is a world leader in protecting those giant mammals.
Nowhere else in New Zealand the mountains run so closely parallel to the sea as along the Kaikoura coast. This made it necessary to carve an incredible lot of tunnels for the railway and the road into the cliffs along the sea.
Especially south of Kaikoura you find some exciting examples of this kind of infrastructure. In one of the curves you have a double road tunnel, with one lane each for each direction, whereas the railway tunnel runs a bit further inland through a third tunnel.
This could also be a tip about Warnings and Dangers... But it is also about my favourite things: the fantastic mountains of the region that BTW are still rising...
As said in my intro, the Kaikouras are not a single but two mountain ranges, the Seaward and the Inland Kaikouras. They are divided by a deep fault. Through part of that fault runs the Clarence River which flows into the Ocean seven kilometres north of Waipapa Bay – the place with the colourful crayfish shop.
Whereas the Alpine Fault runs along the western edge of the Southern Alps, it splits into three parallel faults north of Arthur’s Pass. One of these faults is the one that divides the Kaikoura Ranges.
Faultlines mean earthquakes – we experience them on a daily basis in New Zealand. But most are so shallow that we do not get aware of them.
Archaeological remains indicate that Moa Hunters inhabited the peninsula 900 years ago. In Maori legend, Maui placed his foot on the Kaikoura peninsula to steady himself while he fished-up the North Island. The fabulous food sources attracted Maori settlement, and the remains of several pa sites can still be seen on the peninsula.
I have heard and read very positive comments about the Maori Tours of Kaikoura – I have not experienced it myself. The people involved are locals, descendants of the original Maori tribe of the region, Ngati-Rangitane, and it is a family business. Perhaps you want to get into this if you do not like the thought of attending a touristy Maori cultural show.
Phone (03) 319 5567
Freephone (0800) 866 267
Nothing is easier than taking a photo of a flying seagull. Just make them fly, like here at Point Kean. Throw some pieces of bread high into the air and they go for it.
Having some fun as an animal trainer ;-)
Never travel without bird food ;-)
You will see different kinds of seagulls, ones with red beaks, legs and a red ring around the eye. They are the red-billed gulls and quite common. The black-billed gulls look less spectacular but are much rarer.
Favorite thing: If you find yourself in Kaikoura with dirty clothes; check out the Little Laundromat. The building is set back off the road a bit, so you need to look carefully. We sailed right by it a few times. It is open from 5AM to midnight, and soap is automatically dispensed (very handy).
Favorite thing: Kaikoura is surrounded by the Inner Kaikoura Mountains and they are spectacular for much of the year. Being fairly high they can have snow for 10 or more months of the year allowing for some great photos and memories.
they run away when you leave the car..and this is a real good tip: if you like to take a pic of the sheep, do it without noise...they are very shy animals, they know, when humans take a interest in them, mostly it is ...because..
Fondest memory: as I said, rural New Zealand at its best
drive around the Kaikoura Ranges on the 70 to Waiau...80km, stunning Scenery and Countryside Towns
around 110km from Kaikoura to Culverden, small farming community with 2 fine Cafes.
then an other 70km to Christchurch.
Fondest memory: 70km to Waiau, make sure you get your Lunch at the Waiau Dairy. fresh Fish&Chips
buy water and some food, fruit maybe..and make sure you have enough Petrol..there are no supplies on the way. but that makes it so interesting with a touch of adventure
from Picton to Invercargill, New Zealand has a longer Coastline then the USA...Discovery Channel say;s so :-))...and the State Highway 1 is one of the most scenic drives and right around Kaikoura
Fondest memory: exactly that....driving from Picton .stop in Kaikoura and go on to Christchurch
just before you enter Kaikoura from State Highway 1.....you find Marine Wild Life close to the shores, have your binocolus at hand often you see the Whales playing in the distance
Fondest memory: when lucky...the Whales and Dolphins but the Birds are always there