In March, we drove to Kaikōura on the upper east coast with planned stays in Nelson and Able Tasman. A COVID lockdown brought an abrupt halt to travel and six-week stop on Nelson’s Monaco Peninsula – not a bad place to be. En route we were awed by Mother Nature…again.
Big Tree Walk
An impulsive turn and simple sign led to a walk beside trees straight out of Lord of the Rings. Giants amongst giants. Trail signs said something to the effect of “You thought that last tree was big?…Keep walking!”
Rakaia Gorge – Stunning Scenery
The Rakaia, in the shadow of Mt. Hutt, runs through wide shingle beds and a narrow canyon with that uncanny shade of milky aquamarine, having come straight from glaciers in the mountains. The Rakaia Walkway is listed in “NZ Walks for Wimps”.
Kaikōura-Site of the Most Complex Earthquake Ever Studied
Just a few short years ago, in November 2016, a historic “Sudden Stop” occurred when a 7.8 earthquake isolated the town of Kaikōura. Thousands of slips (landslides) buried sections of State Highway 1 and the main trunk railway line. Kilometers of train tracks were dragged out to sea or buried along a 160km (99 mile) stretch.
The railway was restored in 10 months. Thirteen months later, a beautiful re-sculpted highway reopened. Train passenger service resumed December 2018. I cannot relate the scale of this. Watch a few minutes of this video. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqjob7hjpfs
(Or cut/paste You Tube for “Kaikōura earthquake recovery – our story”)
The seabed lifted 2 to 7 feet. In one area the uplift was 18 feet. The quake lifted rocks, seaweed, and creatures above the water line and forever changed the coast. We hiked a path above the beach with jaw-dropping views of the new seabed.
Our mission in Kaikōura was to view albatross and watch whales (Tohorā). Whales were rained out, but to view our birding adventure, click here Birding in NZ
Or cut and paste – https://ruppsooby.com/2020/04/19/birding-in-nz/
The Peninsula, and the long and large Kaikōura Mountain Range provided abundant food, shelter and 800 years of Māori tradition. For tourist travel – see Great Journeys of NZ – “Tick Kaikoura off your must do list” https://www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/blog/tick-kaikoura-off-your-must-do-list/
Sudden Stop in Nelson For 6 Weeks of Lockdown
March 23 – An unexpected announcement provided 48 hours notice before a mandated COVID lockdown period commenced. We scrambled and rented a cottage in Nelson on the Monaco Peninsula. Our friends, Carol and Bill, worked even harder to secure flights back to Colorado. After 7 weeks of togetherness, we said goodbye…no hugs allowed.
Across the street, the Tasman Sea – tide in, and out of the bay. Early snow on the peaks.
Sunsets on the bay/mudflats