Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Zealand


Executive summary by darmansjah

As a general rule, nearly every corner of New Zealand is steeped in indigenous culture, but Kaikoura, roughly 180km north of Christchurch, may in fact be the spiritual centre of the Maori universe, as it is considered one of landing spots for the first Polynesian settlers. Kaikoura serves double duty as New Zealand’s gateway to the Pacific ocean, and the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains, home to the dramatic Tapuae-o-Uenuku Mountains, known in the Maori languages as the ‘footprint of the rainbow.’ The biggest draw in Kaikoura is undoubtedly the opportunity to spend time on the open sea with sperm whales, dolphins, fur seals, albatrosses and sea monsters-depending on who you listen to. Whale Watch is a legacy outfitter run by the Kati Kuri people of Kaikoura, and organizes two-and-half-hour expeditions that all but guarantee you an opportunity to spot gigantic sea creatures, though Whale Watch, the Whale ways Station, Whaleway road, was not willing to guarantee that an orca would jump over our boat and my outstretched arms. Kaikoura is also well-regarded as a rugged surf paradise; a few hours of clashing point breaks will have you craving rock lobster, also known as Kaikoura’s ubiquitous crayfish. For my money the best crayfish come out of the bucket at The Strawberry Tree (21 West End, kaikoura), where I warmed up next to the fireplace with a pint of sheep shagger lager, and topped off my hearty meal with a bubbling pot of seafood chowder.

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