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Day 15 : Saturday 19th March 2005

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To Kaikoura

This was always going to be a fairly full day of driving. We headed on our way from Lake Tekapo after a breakfast at a local cafe. The going was fairly easy, although the conditions were more overcast with occasional very light drizzle. We reached Christchurch by lunchtime and avoided driving right through the centre. However we stopped at an out-of-town shopping mall to get some lunch in the food court.

Continuing up Highway 1, the way was fairly clear until we got nearer to Kaikoura, where the road becomes much more twisty and turny and our initial good progress got a bit bogged down. Still, we made it to Kaikoura by the middle of the afternoon.

Our first task was to try and book ourselves on the next morning's whale watching trip, but we had to waitlist as there were no more places. After finding our motel and ditching our stuff, we headed up to the end of the peninsula where there is a seal colony and the seals were lazing around on the rocks in the (sort of) afternoon sun. There is also a clifftop walk and, nearer the town a hill lookout, but the view from both was partly spoiled by a veil of foggy cloud which obscured the mountains that backdrop the town and coast. Still, this gave an added air of mystique to the place.

Dinner was at a local bar, and I decided to splash out on some local crayfish. Unfortunately, as I've found with lobster in the past, this type of seafood is over-hyped and certainly over-priced . But the ambience was lovely, the service great and the bar, Sonic on the Rocks, had a band playing later in the evening who were fantastic. Its not in the Lonely Planet, but I heartily recommend this place.