Kyle “te Kiwi” Mulinder is behind Bare Kiwi, one of the top New Zealand travel blog, chronicling his adventures around New Zealand and Australia. He regularly visits Kaikoura and wrote a piece about his adventures here. He is the author of the viral video: A seal slapped me in the face with an octopus!
We’ve asked him a few of his favorite things about Kaikoura:
… What’s your favorite things to do in Kaikoura in the fall?
Dolphin swimming is my favorite thing to do in Kaikoura. I also love seating back and let Kaikoura do its magic.
… What’s your favorite food to eat when visiting Kaikoura?
There is a lovely Thai restaurant in Kaikoura which I like a lot when visiting Kaikoura.
… What’s your favorite photography spot in Kaikoura?
That’s a hard one! There is a lot going on in Kaikoura! I think the lookout is my favorite. I love chilling out up there.
… What’s your favorite NZ photographer or blogger?
It has to be Shaun Jeffers. Check out his work!
… Finally tell us about your best souvenir visiting Kaikoura…
I have several but the first one is when the Kaikoura local tribe gave my a piece of pounamu a greenstone that I wear.
Another one is when a seal slapped me in the face by an octopus! I was testing a new camera with Kaikoura Kayaks. The video went viral globally!
Great News !! The New Zealand Transport Authority has confirmed that State Highway 1 (SH1), both north and south of Kaikoura, will reopen to traffic on December 15, 2017. It should be noted that initially the road will be open only from 7am until 8.30pm. Travelers will need to plan accordingly.
194 kms of our SH1 was badly-damaged by more than 85 landslides caused by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in November of last year. We would like to send a BIG Thank You to all the people who have literally moved mountains to get the highway re-opened by this Christmas !
The stunning journey along Kaikoura's coastline is yours to enjoy once again. We look forward to welcoming you to Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses!
More information about the current conditions on the highway is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c
We were lucky that our Lodge and Tree House structures came through the huge “Kaikoura Earthquake” of November 14, 2016, relatively unscathed – plaster cracks, broken bottles, and the loss of a lot of sleep. With respect to other aspects of our environment we were not as lucky and for the balance of our summer season, which in our southern hemisphere runs from September through March, we were challenged by the significant damage all along the coast. The worst issue from our point of view was the massive landslides along Highway One that smothered the road in hundreds of tons of boulders, trees and dirt.
Highway One runs from Picton (the receiving port for the Wellington ferry) and Blenheim (the nearest airport of size) in the north through Kaikoura to Christchurch in the south. The Highway is the Lodge’s primary artery for supplies and guest arrivals. It is essentially the only way into and out of Kaikoura. There is an alternative, longer route from Christchurch to Kaikoura, the Inland Road, that was less damaged by the quake than Highway One, and which was restored relatively quickly. From mid-January Highway One to the south, from Kaikoura to Christchurch, has been open on a restricted basis - but the route to the north is still closed.
The restoration of the Highway is requiring a huge and expensive outlay of money and effort, involving hundreds of workers and innumerable pieces of heavy equipment (even helicopters and ships) working 10 hous a day, 7 days a week. This is particularly true for the northern route. There the landslides and rebuilding of the road are being attacked from both the north and the south simultaneously. The NZ government has announced that “ no matter what” the road will be fully open by December 2017, an announcement that we take to be a promise.
The staging area for the northern restoration effort is being carried on right around the corner from the Lodge, so we are able to monitor daily the progress being made by the hundreds of men & women from the recovery crews. Considering the scale of the job the progress is quite remarkable. Over half a million cubic tons of debris has to be removed from the roadway and disposed of in an environmentally safe way. The largest load a dump or tip truck can only carry is 3 cubic tons, so we can only imagine the number of trips involved - at times it seems to us to be a Sisyphean effort - but we are confident that the workers will prevail. We watch in amazement.
The larger Kaikoura environs were also affected in significant ways by the quake: major uplifting and subsidence of land, the ocean floor, including that of the local harbour, altered in significant and not yet fully understood ways, and the disruption of a large number of bird and ocean colonies. Repair of Kaikoura harbour’s infrastructure is well under way, allowing the local oceanic tours, Whale Watch, Dolphin Encounter and Kaikoura Kayaks, to regroup and get back to business.
Full operation of the harbour is expected well before the opening of the 2017-18 summer season.
We are also getting good news about the recovery and regrouping of the local seal colonies. The Ohau seal colony to the north of Hapuku is adjusting extremely well, with a number of new seal pup nursery pools evident only a few miles north of their previous long term nurseries. This good news coupled with the recent multiple sightings of Orca, Humpback, and Sperm whales and the daily sighting of hundreds of Dolphins leads us to believe that Kaikoura is on the road to a full recovery.
If you are thinking about coming to Kaikoura this next summer, please rest assured that the town will be ready to welcome you with open arms, as will we.
We want to give a special shout out and thank you to all those guests that joined us this past summer in spite of all the obstacles, and we hope that they found the shifting landscape and the earthworks as interesting as we do.
Each year it is a beautiful sight to see Hutton’s shearwaters, sea birds native and unique to Kaikoura and severely endangered, shear (hence their name) across the ocean to feed before returning to their nesting grounds in the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Range. To protect their nests from predators, such as wild pigs and rodents, Hutton's shearwaters locate their nesting burrows on the steepest slopes of the mountain range at altitudes of 1200 to 1800 meters. Unfortunately, last year this practice exposed the birds to another danger - rock slides caused by the huge 14 November Kaikoura earthquake.
Viewings from helicopters shortly after the earthquake indicated that at least 30% of the nesting burrows, and with them the resident birds and their chicks, of the only two natural colonies in existence, had been destroyed by landslides. To find out more it was necessary to undertake "burrow scoping " - humans on hands and knees examining each nest. The fuller examination of the damage to the colonies had to wait until this month, April, the beginning of New Zealand's winter, to give the birds time to leave their nests and undertake their annual migration north to Australia's warmer waters.
We now have a better picture of what happened as result of the earthquake. Unfortunately, the news is not good. It appears that up to another 20% of the burrows/nest were destroyed and the chicks that they were intend to nurture perished. The best estimates are that the population of chicks has been reduced to 50% of normal, at best.
In the 1960s there were 8 large nesting colonies of shearwaters in Kaikoura. Today there are two. And now, thanks to the earthquake, the two are threatened. The Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust was established in 2008 to protect and encourage the breeding of Hutton's shearwaters. For this purpose the Trust has established an "artificial" breeding colony of burrows on the Kaikoura Peninsula. The Peninsula colony came through the earthquake in much better condition than the two mountain colonies, and will now be crucial to the efforts to increase and re-establish the population over the next few years.
We urge you to support the The Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust as it continues its fantastic work to assure the survival and propagation of this unique and beautiful bird. Please help these birds survive by purchasing one of the Trust's products or by making a donation to The Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust.