NZ Life & Leisure
ROAD TRIP: DRIVE NORTH OF KAIKŌURA
Driving north from Kaikōura is like re-enacting a scene from a Hollywood movie, only instead of white California beaches, here rough surf crashes into jagged rocks. The coastal stretch of SH1 extends as north as Clarence, but it doesn’t take long to get the picture. Drive for just 20 minutes to find boardriders chasing waves at Mangamaunu, a popular surfing beach, and carry on to find plenty of lookout points to stop and stretch the legs. Beach shacks serving up fresh seafood are dotted along the highway, including the famous Nin’s Bin (on Facebook) and Karaka Lobster (karakalobster.com), a restaurant with a larger-than-life crayfish erected on its roof. Most motorists take a break about 20 kilometres north of Kaikōura to peer over the edge of the Ōhau Point to watch seals wriggling on the rocks. The stretch of highway was closed for 13 months after the earthquake; now that it’s up and running again, driving it is considered an essential experience for locals and visitors alike.
See another seal colony from a different perspective. Ōhau Point, a 20-minute drive north of Kaikōura, was once a must-visit. Before the earthquake, visitors scrambled along a track to Ōhau Waterfall to ooh and aah as seal pups played in their watering hole. Although the quake destroyed the track, a car park overlooking the colony opened to the public in 2018. And once again, visitors were able to exclaim in wonder. Hundreds of seals can be observed on the outcrop below the car park, sometimes in piles of two or three. Crevices on the rocky bank have formed shallow pools for the seals to play in — look closely to find them splishing and splashing with as much delight as the onlookers above them. The lookout point is 27 kilometres north of Kaikōura on SH1, with 20 car parks available.