Day 15: Blenheim - Kaikoura - Hanmer Springs
10 January 2010
2330km - map

After breakfast and a 6 minute shower (as dictated by the token-driven mechanism) we continued along Queen Charlotte Drive taking in the scenery as we went. At Havelock we turned and headed south towards Blenheim and the east coast. We tried to find a vantage point on one of the side roads to see the pink salt lakes but the only one we had seen was several kilometers previous as we came over a hill. By the time we got there it was all too flat to see anything... except for a dead sheep in a field, all on its own.

As we drove along the coast road there were lots of seals basking on the rocks, seemingly posing for photographs so I obliged. For brunch we stopped at The Store which was a really nice roadside café/restaurant which seemed to be entirely staffed by english or american surfer dudes which was a little unexpected. A quick walk along the beach to work off some of the food we had just eaten and we were ready to get going again

Further down the coast we came to Kaikoura, famed for its many crayfish eateries, allbeit expensive ones and while Sarah took a wander around the seafront (with roads suitably named after Yarmouth, Margate, Ramsgate and others) I took a nap in the back of the van. It's very convienient to have such room when driving a lot, when you feel a bit tired from the driving you can just pull up and have a lie down and rest in the back of the van!

Sarah needed to satisfy a hunger for some seafood and had picked up a flyer for a place where the seafood is barbequed to order while you wait so we hunted it out and found it to be no more than a gas-fired hotplate on the roadside with a couple of plastic patio tables and chairs. Nice enough people but the flyer was more than just a little misleading I think. I had grilled "fish" (actual type of fish not specified) and Sarah had a whitebait pancake, both served between buttered cheap sliced white bread on a paper plate. Classy it was not, but it tasted ok and was cheap.

We then travelled inland to a place called Hanmer Springs, known as "Thrill-seeker's Canyon" offering everything from bungee jumping to white water rafting and lots more besides. We planned on staying at a road side rest area but unfortunately the local council had closed them all, we think to try and divert some money into the campsites (This wasn't the only place we encountered this). The town center was full of campervans and motorhomes, this was definitely a popular place for us travelling types and there was no shortage of campsites to accomodate them all. We found a site just outside town, paid and parked up for the night. It wasn't long before the heavens opened and it didn't stop raining nearly all night which put a halt to our plans of a barbeque for dinner and sandwiches it had to be.

The Store
Seal posing for photos
Driving from the coastal flatlands to Hanmer Springs in the mountains
The campsite at Hanmer Springs