After almost two months the end of our time in New Zealand loomed at the horizon. So much to do, so little time. Although we had an exceptional time in this beautiful country and already saw some amazing landscapes and met fantastic people we still had some things on our to-do list.
To check some of these off of our list we drove up the east coast to the city of Kaikoura. Kaikoura is famous for its whale watching tourism. The both of us had been very lucky as we had been gifted two tour vouchers with which we booked a tour. Before we even started our trip in December, there had been a strong earthquake near Kaikoura. Besides making the access to the city complicated (the North-Road was still unaccessible when we arrived two months later and the South-Road only opened during the day time) the earthquake interfered with the whale-watching business: The city of Kaikoura had been lifted by the eathquake almost one meter so the boat ramp did not reach deep enough into the water anymore. The whale watch company modified their trailer to be able to at least start the business on high tide (what is what we were booked for).
When we arrived in Kaikoura via mountain roads with massive work sites to fix the slips and repair the streets, strong winds and rain were very present. Our tour was planned for the next day. The wind grew the whole night and got stronger and stronger. Backpacker on our camp ground relocated their tents in the mid of the night because the storm broke twigs and branches from the surrounding trees near their tents and Hector-Constantin (our camper-van) shook heavily.
Arriving at the tour assembly point the next morning we saw massive waves rolling in onto the beach. No recording would give the deep almost growling sound of the crushing waves credit. A deep thundering boom rumbled through the beach when the water crashed. Entering the building of the whale watch company we were informed that our tour was cancelled because of the storm. And because of the earthquake damages no other tours were available (in our time frame).
Next on our list to check off was Amberley. A friend of us worked there on a horse farm. She found the job via WWOOF and had to maintain the horses. While we’ve been there we were invited to visit one of the training sessions of the horses for western riding. Quiet impressive if you see a horse obey subtle changes in the riders body language! After the training the three of us ate burger in a local pub and caught up with stories.
The next stop was a recommendation from friends: The lake Tekapo and the city of Twizel. Although the city was a bit boring, the lake Tekapo (and its sibling, lake Pukaki) are stunning. We’ve never seen bluer lakes. The color of the water is literally otherworldly. We were sitting at the lakes and were speechless. Look at the pictures. The color is not manipulated. The both of us assume there is an government agency in New Zealand which sole purpose is to color the lakes (Department Of Impressive Water Color).
We celebrated this impressive body of water with fresh salmon sashimi from said lakes.
Our last stop before we had to return Hector-Constantin to the rental company was Castle Hill. The Castle Hill area consists of gentle grass hills no more than some ten meters high. The real attraction are the rocks laying around. As if some someone spilled a glass of pebbles (a huge glass with massive pebbles). The whole area was thriven with boulder-climbing fans, tourists making selfis on top of the rocks and locals having picnic in the shadow of the rocks.