November Travels

Kaikoura Visit (5th – 9th November)
Early November we joined our walking group for five days visiting Kaikoura. We headed off through to Pelorus, but stopped for a coffee there, then on to Blenheim and out to Ward Beach for lunch. Before the earthquake of 2016, we had visited and stayed at Ward Beach and watch people launch their boats with the aid of bulldozers. Not now though as the earthquake seemed to have lowered the beach while pushing up other areas. It was hard to remember what it was like but I didn’t see any bulldozers on the beach this time. After lunch we had a short walk along the beach to the south.

The earthquake of November 2016 certainly changed a lot of landscape on the way to Kaikoura.  My car gps gadget didn’t have any speed limits noted on this section of the road as there were a number of hold ups, but not for long. The earthquake destruction of this highway and railway was massive but the recently re-opened road (and railway later) still had road working machines and people galore, in action at various places along the route.  Shipping containers lined some sections of the road for the protection from falling rocks but generally, the road was pretty good. 

Kaikoura, 2018.

Some parts of this coast was raised more than six metres and a drop of more than two metres in others. Some land was shifted horizontally as much as twelve metres along one fault and vertically as much along another. Nearby Cape Campbell is now 350mm closer to the North Island while back near home, Nelson slipped 50mm South East!  This doesn’t sound much – unless you are standing on the actual spot. 

We stopped at Ohau which had some major road works done and still underway. Before the earthquake, one could walk a track beside the stream to a waterfall with a pool at its base in which young seals frolicked around while waiting for their mothers to return. Now it appears that the young seals wait out among the rocks along the sea shore at Ohau. A new car park and view point  had been formed from which it seemed as if we could see hundreds of seals about the rocks. All shapes and sizes and thinking that if each seal ate a number of fish each day, there must be a lot of fish out in the deeper water. I wondered that if we can take fish to eat, why not seals? It might even things up a little from the fish point of view? 

Kaikoura, 2013.

At Kaikoura the next day Shirl & I walked along the Peninsular Walk, with views looking down on the shoreline. We had visited Kaikoura in 2002 and 2013 but it was hard to tell of the changes to the beaches after the 2016 – 7.8 (Richter Scale) earthquake but noticeable was the amount of exposed white rocks which I guess had been pushed up by the earthquake. We passed a song thrush bursting with song and further along, a heron, some yellowhammers and a goldfinch were feeding on the grass seed by the edge of the track. 

Red billed Seagulls.

We went down the steps to Whale Bay and over to where there used to be a tern nesting colony in 2002. They had gone by 2013 and now deserted except for three pairs of nesting black backed gulls. Walking back along the coast, passing many seals, we came to the first red billed seagull nesting colony. Lots of movement and interesting to view, sit and watch all the comings and goings of the birds. I didn’t notice any chicks, just the adults sitting on eggs.

The next day others of the group went their different ways but I went back to the seagull colony for another look. This time there were quite a number of chicks about although I didn’t see any adult feeding the chicks. Walking along to the bird colony, I passed three or four dead seals. All were young except for one. Hearing and watching the seals, there  certainly was a lot of squabbles. On one occasion, I watched a large seal chase a smaller one over and around some rocks for several minutes so I guess the odd one suffers injuries from time to time. It is surprising how fast the larger seals could move over the rocks. 

Later that afternoon the temperature was 31 degrees and quite muggy but suddenly, with a change of wind from the North to the South and in a very short time (it seemed like just a few minutes), the temperature dropped to 17 degrees!  That Southerly wind came straight off snow for sure and was very welcome. 

The second to last day we visited the Fyffe Palmer bush walk which had a good number of large sized matai, totara and tree fuchsia and a nice hour and a half or so walk. It is just a pity to see all the pest vines growing at the start of the track especially being in a Scenic Reserve. It was interesting to hear though of an earlier landowner who planted in front of the reserve a patch of native plants. The idea was to try and stop the milling behind or to make it awkward for the miller to access the reserve. It must have worked as it is certainly worth while to wander through the reserve passing by some great specimens of forest trees that escaped those millers. 


After this walk we continued on to the start of the track to the summit of Mt Fyffe but turned off to walk the shorter three-quarter hour Hinau Track nearby. A number of large Hinau trees along the track was good to see too.
The last day came and with it some rain.  On the drive home it didn’t matter too much but we were very lucky with the weather when out walking.
Another Earthquake:  On the 30th October, about 2.30pm I picked up Shirl from the Nelson airport and coming home stopped at a pedestrian crossing in Richmond.  Suddenly it seemed as if someone had shaken the back of my car. Maybe the car behind had bumped into me or someone had given the car a shake but no, nothing like that. I had the feeling that it might have been an earthquake so inquired and sure enough it was. A neighbour said that it was a good shake, then what seemed like a drop, then it was over. No wonder the car shook a bit.   
November rainfall was 36.5mm at our place and with the average being 90mm this was quite a reduction in rainfall for this month. It does look like we will be a little above the average rainfall for the year though. 

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