Searching for Seals

In February, when we were in Kaikoura, I went on a massive walk in the morning out to Ohau to see the seal colony.

There were 2 seals.

Recently (thanks Facebook) I learnt that Turakirae Head Reserve in Wainuiomata is home to the largest seal colony in Wellington.

So off we went.

Our walk took us past farm land, green pastures with sheep, framed with huge cliffs. There were even some little lambs, bless them, it’s not lamb season, they will be so cold.

On the other side of us we have the coast, dotted with flax and tussock near the shoreline. I really enjoy the scenery. It’s not what you would describe as being pretty, and I am sure there are people who wouldn’t be able to see the appeal. It’s wild and rugged, but also untouched and beautiful in it’s own way.

The signpost said it would be an hour’s walk but it only took us half that. The walk is flat, but quite challenging. It starts out easy, walking along gritty sand, but this changes into gravel, then shingle, then rocks and at the end we found ourselves having to Macgyver over and around boulders and scrub.

Our efforts were rewarded though, there are plenty of seals here and lots of big boulders to sit upon and just watch. Our furry friends aren’t particularly active. The sun is out, so they seem pretty happy just lying around sunning themselves.

They take no notice of us.

It’s quite an exposed place and we experience a lot of different weather on this walk; bright blue skies, eerie misty weather with sun breaking through the clouds, a sun shower, followed by a beautiful rainbow and then just rain.

Persistent heavy rain.

There is no shelter, nowhere to hide, we just have to take it. But it’s these types of experiences, being exposed to the elements, that I find really invigorating – when I know there are dry clothes and a hot shower available at the end of it!

If your looking for a local adventure and don’t mind a bit of ‘rock climbing’ you should check out this place.

A sunrise, 2 seals & vintage aircrafts

I am up early for the sunrise, but it is not a sunrise sort of day; grey and drizzly. There is so much fogg that the Kaikoura ranges I could see yesterday from the beach are completely hidden.

I am the only one on the beach, the town is not awake yet so I am left with the sound of the waves rolling back and forth across the stony sea bed. The birds are also quite lively at this hour of the morning.

10 more minutes and the sun should start appearing above the horizon. Some pink hues appear in the distance, this could be promising, but as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared again.

No beautiful sunrise for me this morning.

Another time.

My next stop is to the seal colony. It takes me about an hour to walk there. It’s an easy walk along the waterfront. I arrive, ready to spot some seals, but it’s actually a bit disappointing. I manage to find two, but they are both sleeping, so I decide to take a short walk up the hill to the lookout point which has some pretty sweet views.


I head back to the backpackers, we pack up the motorbike and continue our journey north heading to Picton. The ocean is sage green and the day is very grey, such a contract to what we rode through only 1 week ago. 

Again, from the motorbike I am able to spot seals playing in the waves and sleeping on the rocks.

I actually see way more than I did at the seal colony.

We stop in Blenheim for lunch and then make a trip to Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. We visit both exhibits, Peter Jacksons, ‘Knights of the Sky’ a WW1 exhibition and ‘Dangerous Skies’ WW2 exhibition.

The displays are incredible.

Huge, realistic and dramatic. Also very informative.

The collection includes some original aircrafts, such as a Caproni, and replicas recreating very realistic scenes.

There are even some artefacts that once belonged to Baron von Richthofen, also known as The Red Baron.

There is some sort of aviation event happening just outside the hanger while we are here, which means we are viewing the displays with the sound of old aeroplanes flying overhead.

It really adds to the atmosphere.

I found the very early models fascinating. They seemed to be made of nothing more than wood and canvas – so fragile and vulnerable.

Another fascinating but awful fact I learnt was that pilots in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1 were not supplied with parachutes, even though they had been invented by this time. Aside from the cockpit being quite small and not a lot of room for a parachute, it was thought that supplying parachutes would encourage pilots to abandon the plane at the first sign of trouble, rather than stay and fight and try and save a valuable plane.

I can’t even begin to imagine what this would have been like.

This is an excellent exhibition and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I am not really that interested in aviation. I highly recommend it.

There is also a vintage car exhibition at the same site. We didn’t have time for this, will have to check it out next time.

And for those who are vintage aviation enthusiasts, you can enjoy the views of Marlborough from the air in a Boeing Stearman.

We arrive safely in Picton but pretty dirty. There are still lots of road works happening around Kaikoura. Combined with rain, it made for a pretty muddy trip.

Our old fire blade will definitely need some TLC when we get home.