I don’t know what I am going to do after leaving Kaikoura except for stopping at Ohau Point to see the New Zealand Fur Seals. They give birth from November to January and I will be there at the beginning of December. When Dasha and I went in April we were enchanted by them playing and swimming at the waterfall and sleeping in the bush beside the stream. I took lots of photos but they weren’t great as I didn’t realise the light was so poor.
Before the arrival of humans there was a population of about 2 million. They were taken as food by Maori and, at the onset of European arrival, sealing for meat and pelts in the 1700s and 1800s pushed them to the brink of extinction. Now the population is about 200,000 and rising and they are protected.
There are many adults at the beach and it’s here they give birth, so it’s a good place to sit and watch and hope for that perfect shot. . . . . . . .
I’ve travelled this road a few times without stopping. It would be good to take my time, to stop when I feel like it, to take a side trip to the salt works at Lake Grassmere.
Sea water is pumped into the 688 hectare main lake continuously throughout summer.
As nature does its work and evaporation increases the sea water’s strength, it is pumped into a series of concentrating ponds, where further evaporation takes place.
When the brine reaches saturation point it is transferred into crystallization ponds during the summer months.
The salt crust is lifted from the bottom of the crystallization ponds and transported to one of the two washing plants where it is washed in brine before being stacked in 20-metre high piles.
The snowy stacks of salt are something of a landmark, readily visible by day and night from the Blenheim – Christchurch highway.
I could stay at Blenheim for a night, I’ve only stopped there once to use the public toilet in the supermarket carpark. This naive young woman from the country was most impressed by the automated toilet paper dispenser. I am far more worldly now, 5 years later 😉
The motor camp in Blenheim is by the bridge over the Opawa River.
“Both the Opawa and Wairau Bridges are vulnerable in an earthquake and cause problems for larger freight vehicles. Improvements are most important for the Opawa River Bridge, which is too narrow for two wide vehicles to cross at the same time. This is a potential safety risk and makes journey times variable and unreliable.”
So Dasha and I were about to go over this bridge, this very narrow bridge. The truck at the northern end, a large one, was stopped to allow the medium sized truck in front of me across. I was two thirds of the way across the bridge when he moved onto the bridge. I was not feeling too confident about this. As we approached each other I had to pull further to the outside of the bridge as I was in danger of being scraped by the truck. It was close, very close and all that was harmed was my wing mirror. I was not amused, the inconsiderate swine had miscalculated my size. On the other side of Blenheim we had another near mis, when I moved to the left for an approaching large grass cutter. At the same time a motorist passed me and another passed the grass cutter. We were all moving and briefly were four abreast across State Highway 1. On a sweeping curve 😦
The Wairau Bar is possibly New Zealand’s most important archaeological site, it is a place that connects us with our Pacific past. The gravel bar, formed where the Wairau River meets the Pacific Ocean at Marlborough’s Cloudy Bay, contains archaeological evidence of New Zealand’s earliest human inhabitants. Based on carbon dating and midden site excavation, historical and scientific consensus dates the human settlement of the site to approximately 1100-1350 AD.2.15pm. At the Wairau lagoon there are two shipwrecks.
I was thinking about doing an ecotour of the area until I saw it was $220 for four hours, so I may go solo!
Accommodation: Blenheim TOP 10 Holiday Park
78 Grove Rd, Mayfield, 7201
Phone:0800 268 666
$42 per night (2 persons – I wonder if it is $21 for one. I somehow doubt it)
Wifi – cost