South Island Trip: Wellington to Kaikoura
Written by Cathy Siegismund
We had reservations on the InterIslander at 09:30. The large
vehicle and passenger ferry that runs between the North and South Islands
across Cook Strait.
Route from Wellington to Kaikoura
Cook Strait can be a very rough stretch of water that often closes the ferries down. While we were on the South Island,
the ferries were closed twice by weather, once by high winds and 8-meter
seas in the Strait.
We were lucky, however, and woke to a beautiful sunny calm morning to cross
Cook Strait on the InterIslander ferry.
Photos from the InterIslander Cook Strait crossing
The InterIslander arrives in Picton, a small town at the head of the
InterIslander at the dock in Picton
Town of Picton
From Picton, we took a scenic drive to Havelock. This took us on a very
twisty road, but it did have fantastic views of the Sounds. The Marlborough
Sounds have many small bays and towns to explore and would offer great cruising.
The Marlborough Sounds are beautiful, and a place we would like to take the boat
We had decided to stop in Havelock, the "Green-Lipped Mussel Capital of the
World", for lunch. Havelock is a small town, with mussels being the prime
We stopped at the Mussel Boys for a fantastic lunch of New Zealand green-lipped
After lunch, we continued our drive down the east coast of the South Island
toward Kaikoura. The roads in the North Island are not exactly like I-5, but the
roads on South Island are even more challenging, with lots of turns, fewer
passing lanes, and one lane bridges.
We even found a one-lane bridge, which had cars on the lower level and trains
on the upper.
Car and rail bridge
East coast of South Island, north of Kaikoura
We arrived in Kaikoura in the early evening. Kaikoura was once just a small
fishing village, which in Maori means "Eat Crayfish" or lobster. Since the
mid-eighties, Kaikoura has developed into Mecca for sea life seekers. There are
whale watches by boat, helicopter and plane, where you have the opportunity to
see orcas and sperm whales. There's diving, wild dolphin swims, seal swims,
and a fur seal colony.
Since many of the more poplar tourist activities require advance booking, we
visited the fur seal colony, played some golf, and enjoyed the small the town
for a couple of days.
Kaikoura Lookout Panorama
(243 KB download, Java required)
See the Kaikoura Photo Gallery for more pictures
of Kaikoura and the fur seal colony.
We would have liked to spend more time in Kaikoura, but I had to get to
Hamner Springs. I had signed up for a 9-day horse trek which would take up from Hamner Springs back to Kaikoura