Sun Feb 15 2009: Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura!
Getting ready to leave Eliza Manor in Christchurch
Up at 5:30AM this morning. Kind of nice to get a head start for the day. After another nice breakfast at Eliza's Manor, we bid farewell to Ann and head on our way to Kaikoura which is about 180 kms north of Christchurch. Ann tells us that there are some great twisty roads on the way to Hanmer Springs, which is a bit inland and will add about 100 more kms to the trip. Twisty roads? How can we resist?!?
Our route for the day
So this is what it's like riding in the sunshine!
The weather in the morning is still a bit chilly, around 10C, but at least there's not a cloud in the sky. The forecast in the afternoon is for 20C, which is still a bit cold for this time of year. At least it stopped raining! We take the main Hwy 1 north from Christchurch and notice lots of wineries along the road about half-an-hour into our journey. We've heard of one called Pegasus Bay and decided to drop in. We can't really be imbibing while riding, especially at 9AM in the morning, but the grounds are spectacular and we spent a good hour walking around taking in the scenery.
Pegasus Bay Winery
Walking the grounds at the Pegasus Bay Winery
Back on our way, we pass through the small town of Amberly and notice lots of diners with motorcyclists hanging out in each. Quite the biker town. Lots of sport tourers, BMWs, V-Stroms. Very little Harleys though. What little cruisers we saw were Triumphs! Heading out of town, we see a police stop check every vehicle that passed through. When we reached it, a device was being waved in our face and we were asked to speak normally into for 3 seconds. It was an alcohol check! Because of it's proximity to the wineries, the police were cracking down on drunk driving in the area. At 10:30AM! LOL!
Up the twisty Alpine roads towards the interior
We headed into the interior through Lewis Pass which has great high-speed sweepers. Taking turns whie riding onthe left hand side takes some getting used to. As you lean into right handers, you've got to stay to the outside or your head gets clipped by oncoming traffic - exactly opposite to North American roads. And it's the left-hand turns that are the blind ones! Weird!
Just a small reminder...
The Lewis Pass takes us through what's known as the Alpine Pacific Triangle, an area known for it's wine and food, as it winds up the mountains of the interior. We turn up into Hanmer Springs and arrive around noon and walk around the area. It's a small touristy town built around the Hanmer Hot Springs, a natural hot sulpher and mineral springs. The smell of sulpher permeates the area of the pools, which brings no end to the fart jokes (on my part, of course). Neda is unimpressed, as expected. The pools remind me of Banff's Upper Hot Springs, but much larger. 9 pools in all! Since we were there, we thought it best to sample what the town was known for! Even though it was only around 20C, our pasty pale Canadian hides got burnt nice and toasty in the New Zealand summer sun! I'm still itching as I'm typing this...
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
Although the water is 37C, the sun is doing a much better job of burning me
After a nice late lunch, we hit the twisty roads to Kaikoura, which is back on the east coast of New Zealand. We pull into town around 5PM and check into the Nikau Lodge, another B&B run by two women, Lilla and Sophie. Sophie greets us and shows us around the house, a very homey and comfortable place and our room on the 2nd floor overlooks the mountain and beaches! We've heard about the seal colony that is at the end of the peninsula stretching out of Kaikoura, so we immediately head out there before the evening gets too late. Actually, we're heading out there now because in a couple more hours we'll both be unconscious, unable to resist the jet lag that's starting to overcome us.
Heading to Kaipoura
Riding through town, Kaikoura has the feel of a Hawaiian surf town. Lots of touristy shacks catering to wind surfing and boarding and all the youth culture around it. As we ride to the end of the peninsula, we're a bit disappointed that we don't see a lot of seals. In fact, walking around, Neda laments the fact that there aren't any around, and then almost stumbles on one as the seal barks a warning to Neda not to step on it! LOL!
Seal colony at Kaikoura peninsula. Where the heck are all the seals?
The view at the end of the peninsula
This seal likes paparazzi almost as much as Sean Penn does.
"Ok, let's go back, I need some aloe for my forehead"
Well, mission accomplished, we saw our seal, so back to Nikau Lodge where we get ready to turn in for another early evening. I'm really glad the weather is starting to get warmer and drier! It's starting to feel like summer again. And I've got the sunburn to prove it! :(
Riding around Kaikoura. I took Neda's Sprint out for a spin. Great ride!
Nikau Lodge. Is that a lobster in the window?
View from our room. Pretty sweet, eh?