City Travels - Kaikoura
I was there from July 29th through the 31st..
All prices are given in New Zealand dollars.
I, once again, took an Intercity bus. I've written about Intercity plenty in other posts, so you probably get the gist. However, let me say, that if you're heading towards Christchurch, and you are a person who doesn't like curvy roads, you should probably stop in Kaikoura.
The bus route, which goes through to Christchurch, follows the coastline, which is beautiful and totally worth a roadtrip. But it is a coastline, and a coastline is never straight. I don't get nautious super easy, but twisty roads will do me in. Cutting the sprawling road trip in half was definately the right decision for me.
I couldn't do much on this bus ride, lest I get carsick. So I just looked out the window and listened to podcasts for the two-and-a-half hour ride. The coastline is beautiful, so this was perfectly fine entertainment. Do not depend on the bus wi-fi on this route though-- the bus will lose the mobile singal about halfway down the coast.
A Place to Stay
I stayed in the Sunrise Lodge Backpackers, and it's honestly my favorite place I've stayed thus far. It is a small hostel, which feels very homely. I will note right away you cannot depend on this hostel being open in June, July or August. I was speaking with the owner and last year he closed for the whole winter, and this year he was closing for all of August. I was there the last day they were open for the season.
Because they were running with minimum staff, they had a sign on the front door of reception telling me to call X phone number to call someone to the front desk. While this is an OK solution, I don't have phone service here in New Zealand. A car happened to pull up to the curb in front of the backpackers, and a kind woman came over and called the number for me. Thank you, whoever you were!
I stayed in a 3-single bed dorm, which I happened to have by myself. The dorm cost $31 a night, without BBH discounts. Everything was immaculately clean and comfy. There is a light for your bed, and a wall-heater in the room. There are a few stools/chairs to sit on. The only downside is there is no lockable luggage storage, nor does the door lock autoatically. This was not a problem for me, because I happened to have the room to myself, but the mix of no secure storage and never knowing when someone else would forget to lock the door in a busyier season would bother me a little.
The kitchen is very well stocked and clean. There are also several dinning tables to eat or chat at. There is far more cooking tools than you'd expect for such a small hostel, such as a oven, sandwhich press and electric tea kettle.
There is one hotel-like bathroom, with a sink, counter, shower, and toilet all in one enclosed room, which like everything else in the hostel was extremely clean. There is also a single shower in it's own little room and a single toilet in it's own little room. There is a sink with ample counter and storage space outside of these three bathroom areas, which is also in the same space as a washing machine. Unfortuneatly, the hostel did not appear to have a dryer.
There is also a tv lounge/porch with lots of couches, a computer, a tv, books, board games, and a keyboard! Wi-fi in the hostel is free and unlimited. You'll recieve a 20GB Zenbu voucher when you check in, but the voucher will keep reseting itself to have 20GB remaining, rather than being an actual data cap. Even if it was an actual data cap, 20GB is beyond reasonable.
There is a three-legged dog, who is very friendly, but that may be an issue for some people.
You come to Kaikoura to see animals. I didn't get to see any dolphins or whales, but I can pretty much guarantee you that you'll see seals! But ya gotta walk for it.
Kaikoura is on the coastline, and the mix of seeing the ocean and snow-capped mounntains is beautiful. But don't plan on tanning on the beach--there's no sand. It's all grey stones. That being said, a walk down the beach is still beautiful.
And when you're done walking down the beach, keep walking! The town is on a peninsula and this walk is why you should visit! The walk goes in a giant loop that takes about 4 hours to complete if you're stopping and taking pictures. There's a brochure with a map about halfway through, here. On this walk you'll see the coastline, seals, bluffs, ocean and a farm. It's amazing.
There is a part of the walk where if you want to complete the loop you'll need to climb two stairs over a farm's fence. The rest of the walk is pretty easy, but if you have mobility issues, keep this in mind. There is also a path down to the beach on the back-end of the trail, but I didn't want to add extra time to an already long walk.
Otherwise, there isn't too much to do here. If you want to for sure see the whales, there are several tours you can go on, but those don't come cheap.
You will walk and you will like it!
THere is a Four Square in the city centre, and a New World about 20 minutes away from the city centre, which is better stocked and was closer to my hostel. I actually brought some food with me from Picton, so I just bought sauce and some cheap meat to eat with my rice, a loaf of bread, milk, and candy.
I wish I could have seen some dolphins or whales, but that's nothing I have control over. Oh well. Otherwise, I feel a whole day in town is perfect, as long as you have good weather.