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The town of Kaikoura lies around an hour and a half from where we live so approx 2 hours north of Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Due to the shape of the seabed combined with the ocean currents in the area, Kaikoura is the whale capital of New Zealand. Being so close to home we had to visit. In the seven years we were here previously we never did.

We set off on a warm and breezy day and had lunch at the NorthWest cafe in Amberley which is a small town only about 20 minutes north of our house. It was recommended by a friend of ours. It did not disappoint. Clams known as pipis in New Zealand served on spaghetti with chorizo and chillies and accompanied by crusty bread was the lunch order for two. It was wonderful.

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The road north is state highway one. It sounds grand. It is a two lane highway that meandersthrough the magnificent scenery. This is no autobahn, freeway or motorway. In Britain we would call it an A road but this is the countries main artery running the entire length of both islands. I love it. It follows the railway line on the coast. There is very little traffic in either direction.

By late afternoon we had arrived at our B+B, Inn The Bay and were warmly welcomed by our young and newly wed hosts Luke and Kylie. Theyproffered hot tea and much good advice about local places to visit and eat. They are really lovely and I would recommend them to you if ever you are this way. Kaikoura esplanade isfestooned with places to stay such is the popularity of this place in high season.

The Whaler pub and restaurant won our money for dinner. Again there are many places to eat. The Whalers did for us.

First thing this morning we followed Luke and Kylies recommendation to go and sea the New Zealand Grey Fur seal pups playing in a waterfall at Ohau creek which lies around 20 minutes north of Kaikoura. We were in for a real treat.

This place is passed by most motoriststotally unaware of what they aremissing.

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A path leads through someancient woodland, along a narrow brook to a waterfall and pool. In the pool around 20 seal pups were swimming around and playing having made their way up from the sea some 300 metres away. It wasfantastic just to sit and watch them play. Nosealife centre here. No zoo or safari park. This was as nature intended and we loved it. Myphotos do not do the place justice.

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Back at the car we crossed the road to see where the pups would enter the creek from the sea and there in the carpark was an adult basking in the sun.

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After a stop at the Ohaulookout point to see the seal colony from where these pups come from we went on to our next stop also recommended by Luke and Kylie to get a taste for fresh New Zealand crayfish.

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One thing that isevident here is the lack of protection from the railway lines. If this was the UK there would be fences 6 feet high. Here is just does not matter. This is the main railway north beside the state highway.

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Our destiny with a fresh crayfish and I mean fresh was at a caravanbeside the main state highway.Nins Bin, once described by the great Rick Stein as the best crayfish in New Zealand did not disappoint. Follow the link for more information. The crayfish was simply fresh, sweet and juicy. The setting was equally as divine, sitting on a bench under an azure sky with the sound of the surf for company.

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What to do next? Well, go whale watching of course. We arrived back at the booking centre for Whale Watch Kaikoura which is beside Kaikoura railway station and arrived just in time to get on the 11:00 departure.

The sea was calm. There was a low swell from the North East. For the next two hours we were treated to 2 sightings of sperm whales and on the way back to our berth we detoured to see Dusky Dolphins leaping and playing. All the while albatrosses and petrelswheel around us.

It has been a magnificent day. We have been blessed with amazing weather, creatures great and small and food beyond comparison. All this lies an hour and a half from our doorstep. How lucky are we?

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Having snapped away all day I ran out of battery power in my camera. No dolphin photos. You will have to take my word for it. But then again there is an excuse to return to Kaikoura as if I ever needed an excuse.

Mark Dexter 2015