My last day in New Zealand. It's been glorious!!!!!!!!!! To apologize for the horrid weather the last 5 days, NZ decided to give me one last day of sunshine. Kaikoura is cute. Really really cute, actually. Of all the towns in NZ I've visited, if I could pick anyplace to live for a year, Kaikoura would be it. And that's tough for me to say cuz I really loved Wellington too. Kaikoura is so beautiful and hippie. It's full of music, art, and vibrant culture. Like OB but minus the bums and definitely a lot cleaner. The main strip isn't very large. Heaps of fish n chip places. There's a little park with a bridge leading to the ocean. Today in the park, I saw a group of ladies singing gospel songs and serving free sausage sizzles with fried onions. Do you know what a sausage sizzle is? It's simply a sausage wrapped in a piece of buttered bread. Sometimes people put fried onions, tomato sauce, or mustard on it too. Every BBQ I went to had buttered bread and I had no idea why they did that. Who butters their bread before they slap a burger on it?? Well that's the answer. It's for the sausage sizzle.
A little ways down from the main strip is an area that has some nicer restaurants and a pepto bismol pink Cinema. They're showing Burlesque tonight. I asked one of the girls at the hostel if she'd ever gone to a movie at that cinema before. She said no, every time she walked by they had canceled all the showings. Not a very popular form of entertainment in Kaikoura it appears! Seems like people are more interested in live music. All the pubs and bars in the area advertise bands for every night of the week. Tonight my plan is to attend the weekly killer BBQ here at Albatross :)
I decided to go for the wale watching tour this morning. It was expensive - $130 - but I heard it's pretty good around here. I rarely get motion sickness, but there was a swell in the ocean today and I was feeling it by the time we got into whale territory. I saw 3 total today. They were all Sperm Whales. The narrator said that they feed way below the surface for about 45 minutes, then come up to the top for 5 minutes to get air, then they go back down again. So when they see a whale in the distance, they really gotta book it over there to catch it before it dives under. An older man nearby started throwing up in a bag. It was pretty rocky in the boat. We passed around a whale's tooth which is bigger than my hand. I had no idea, but a Blue Whale's heart is the size of a VW Beetle! And their tongue is even bigger!!! Anyways, pretty neat to see these critters in the wild.
When I was walking back down the beach after the tour, I saw a big group of people gathered near the water and it looked like something good was going down. So I ran over just in time to see 2 guys struggling with a shark on the beach. Couldn't believe it! Just as I got my camera case unzipped they succeeded in throwing it into the waves. I was like OMG why did you put it back in the water?! "Oh him? We've caught 6 of 'em already today" they said very nonchalantly. Apparently they like catching and releasing sharks just for the heck of it. A bunch of fishermen had camper style rigs up above the beach and I went over to talk with them. Russ, a middle aged, rugged looking Kiwi with white, wind tossed hair and tattoos up his arms, said that most of them were re-located from Christchurch. Turns out he does hair back home, but his salon was ruined. (Rough looking stylist, if you ask me… maybe he meant to say "barber".) He spent a great deal of time telling me all the things he's done in his life, and I started getting the picture that Russell was kind of an exaggerator. Had the cutest albino Beagle doggie named Alvis, and Bonnie the calico cat hanging around his pad. Parked near Russ was a young couple whose home was damaged, so they're camping down the road. He's a DJ, didn't catch what she does. Seeing these essentially homeless people… people like you and I… struggling in the aftermath of the earthquake, made it very real to me. After a while I started getting super hungry - it was nearly 3 o'clock. So I made my way back to Albatross and made myself some lunch.
Then I went to the beach and hung out there for a while with the singing German girl who and the guitar-wielding Swiss guy from last night. The current at the beach is incredibly strong, so no one was swimming. Water's so cold though, I wouldn't have gotten in even if it was calm as a bathtub. Thought maybe I would go surf at Maungamanu tomorrow morning but it looks like renting a board and wetsuit would be difficult, so maybe not this trip. I did check out the used book store, but didn't find anything I wanted to read. Was specifically looking for travel books on Fiji.
I'm really excited for this BBQ tonight! I saw the hot-pink haired owner, Katie, and her partner/boyfriend/husband/whoknows, Ben, making potato salad, baking cubes of butternut squash, and boiling quinoa. If not delicious, at least I know it will be very healthy :)
Plan: do the 3 hour seal walk tomorrow morning, then get everything packed and take a bus to the Christchurch AP where I will spend the night
Budget: $28 hostel, $130 whale watching, $5 backpacker BBQ