Instead of staying in Kaikoura, we decided to stay in a little beach bungalow in Claverly. Claverly, devoid of any shops or stores, is just a handful of holiday homes and thousands of acres of cows and sheep. It’s about as remote as you can get.
Right on the beach, filled with books and games, the kids loved it.
Luke’s birthday request was to swim with dolphins. Thus, Kaikoura with its plethora of sea life was the ideal location. Unfortunately, since the earthquake shifted the entire ocean floor and had affected the waves, the currents and the location of the sea life, the dolphin encounter would not allow anyone younger than 10 to swim. Darn. Instead we booked with the famed seal swim which is rated one of the top wildlife encounters in the world. Everyone was excited until we got a call from the seal swim explaining that all swans were canceled due to poor visibility. BUMMER!! Luke and I went and sat on a little wooden bench in front of our ocean home looking out at the ocean. Having seen signs of a seal farther down the beach on Mike and my morning run I suggested to Luke that we sit and watch for seals right there on our beach. Within moments a seal hopped himself right up onto the beach in front of us and laid out under the sun. We looked at each other in dismay and delight. What a lovely birthday gift!! While he was calling out to Drew and Daisie to come out, another seal came up onto the sand 20 yards in the other direction!! What a treat! National Geographic coming right to you!
A definite highlight of the day along with the amazing plethora of books and the awesome run Mike and I had. We had awoken early and run to the end of the little road in Claverly which ended in a hill which we quickly found was private property when the owner came up on his ATV to see what we were doing on his farm. Soon we learned of his 2000 acre farm and the damage that had occurred to it in the devastating earthquake. He walked us through his home which had been condemned and showed us how the hill at the edge of the home had cracked open in the tremor. After an educational visit he delineated an hour run through his property he thought we would enjoy. We ran up and down hills next to sheep and cows with beautiful vistas of the black sand beach. Awesome.
Eventually, we put the crew in the car and drove the 45 min north to Kaikoura along the gorgeous coast highway. The destruction was apparent all along the beautiful route. Town was depressing. So many shops and hotels closed down, including the surf shop where we had been hoping to get boards. The road we were hoping to take to the seal waterfall was also closed. If it wasn’t so beautiful and the seafood salads from the food truck weren’t so delicious, I would have considered Kaikoura a bust. They have a long way to go to recover. Aftershocks are still occurring almost daily so the kids were hoping to feel one, but this wish did not come to fruition.
The drive along the 1-
Watching the seal colony-
Luke’s birthday wish (yes, Luke’s birthday was yesterday, but since it was today in America, the celebration continued) to have taco salad and watch the Hobbit (how perfect that they had it at the holiday home!) did come to pass. The final highlight of the day came around midnight when we took all the kids outside to see stars like I have never seen before. Sometimes in the states when you are out camping or in the national parks you can really see the stars, but nothing like this. There was no light pollution anywhere for miles and miles. No street lights, no house lights, simply stars so bright and so close it almost felt like you could touch them. It’s always been hard for me to pick out constellations, yet when I saw the sky this bright and clear it felt easy to play dot to dot with the stars. The Milky Way was even brighter than in the science textbooks. We were all in awe. Waves crashes loudly in the background as we stood in reverence pointing out shooting stars and admiring Gods creations. So many gifts of beauty have been bestowed upon us for which I am so grateful for.