NZ road trip: Whale watching in Kaikoura

Across the strait and into the South Island for some big adventures

SOUTH ISLAND – From Picton to Blenheim.

We hopped off the boat and beelined it to the nearest winery. We came across Saint Clair Family Estate; a vineyard where wine tasting was on the go.

We picked out wines that we thought would be nice – I think we tried six wines each, including a cheeky sav’. Sadly we were not impressed by many of the wines, but figured we should buy a few bottles anyway. So we did.

Please excuse my unflattering jumper. I’m not obese.

We saw lots of seals as we made our way south:


We arrived at a cool motel, which was referred to – by me – as the lobster shack. This was due to the enormous sun-bleached plastic lobster hanging off the side of the motel. It was a classy touch; I liked it a lot.

We made dinner (we overshot the rice a bit) and then I enjoyed a Trivial Pursuit night with Aunty Sue, Brother Beach and Husband Beach. Uncle Ricky and Father Beach went to bed early, which was lucky because there was all the more rosé for us!

Whale watching

The next day, we rose early for a spot of whale watching. The staff said the sea was to be sick-inducing. At first we snubbed them and put it down to them being over-cautious, but we soon drugged ourselves up with anti-seasickness tablets.

The staff were right, however. The sea was rough that day! Very swirly. I was wedged between two girls who had turned green and were heaving into paper bags.

About half the boat were throwing up, but they weren’t missing much as we couldn’t find any whales! The captain tried to make the giant seagulls make up for the lack of whales, but no one was really buying into it.

Eventually we saw two whales in the space of about three hours. They hover on the surface, taking in a few deep breaths for 10 minutes before diving back down.

While it was a fantastic experience, I was expecting a little more action. I suppose I was hoping for some ‘free Willy’ moments where the whales jump out of the water and have dolphins play around the boat.

Nevertheless, it was good to tick it off the bucket list. Next time, maybe we could swim with them!

Hanmer Springs.

This was one of my favourite places. The town was a bit like Centre Parcs, where we used to holiday when I was a child.

The town is full of wonderful restaurants, quiet roads, hot pools and tandem bikes.

One of the first things we did was jump into the tandem bike things and race around the town. Reece didn’t enjoy my safety-conscious cycling, but I think I did pretty well at keeping up with the rest.

That evening we thoroughly enjoyed the hot pools – and the slides!


We stopped off in Christchurch gardens for brunch, which was delicious! We wandered around the manicured gardens and admired the flowers.

Little did we know that two weeks later the shootings were to happen just up the road.

Lake Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo and the surrounding towns were beautiful!

The lake is one of those things that really makes you marvel at the perfection of New Zealand. We laid on the pebbled shore of the lake and enjoyed the sunshine while some of us (not me) were brave enough to take a dip in the icy water.

That night, I got attacked by the cat who hangs around the Air Bnb. This is the exact moment that I became a ‘dog person’:

I want a golden retriever.