Three years after the Kaikoura earthquake, the community has recovered and is fully open for tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of this unique area. Unlike Christchurch, the area has not experienced much shaking since the midnight wake up quake on November 14, 2016.
It does take longer to get there from either north or south on Highway 1 due to the extensive roadworks. This is targeted for a March 2020 finish, but this is hard to believe given the extensive damage and the remaining work. Allow an extra hour to drive from Blenheim or from Christchurch. It is worth the effort as it is a absolutely stunning area of New Zealand.
Some of the rocks along the coastline shifted more than a meter, but the New Zealand Fur Seals do not seem to have noticed. When I stopped in Flaxbourne for a coffee, I asked about the wonderful trail to a waterfall and seal nursery close to Kaikoura. The young woman teared up and said it wasn’t there since the earthquake. I felt terrible. Then I stopped at Ohau Point Look Out to admire the fur seals. I saw the road works and rocks at the spot I thought was the same as the place where the seal nursery had been. When I got to the information centre in Kaikoura they reassured me that while people no longer can hike up to the waterfall, the transportation works created a tunnel so the seals can still use it. It was such a magical place and I am glad I was able to experience it.
Almost everyone I talked to in Kaikoura had a story about where they were and what they did when the quake occurred. There were a lot of people running around town naked! Because when you are thrown out of bed just after midnight and then sirens go off to move you to higher ground in case of tsunami, you don’t necessarily take time to get dressed and find your shoes. I drove by the Kaikoura Boutique Hotel and was happy to see it is open and looking great. The proprietors were Christchurch refugees, so when I heard about the Kaikoura quake I sent up a special prayer for them.
I wouldn’t hesitate to stay overnight in Kaikoura, I just needed to push on to Christchurch so I could have coffee with friends in the morning. However, I would keep my shoes and a sweatshirt or jacket handy by the bed at night, just in case.
I have visited Kaikoura before, and enjoyed the very long but wonderful walk around the headlands. There are also whales, dolphins and little blue penguins to observe. Kaikoura has one of the world’s most productive marine areas and is a few hours from Christchurch and even closer to Blenheim. It scores 4.5 out of 5!
There are so many hiking options in Humboldt County. I have lots of choices within 20 minutes of my Trinidad doorstep. I went on a longer 5 mile hike and then a short 1.6 mile hike–both with ocean views and lots of up and down.
On New Years Day I took advantage of the California State Parks kick off to their 150th year celebration in 2014. They hosted over 40 hikes at state parks including one at the Humboldt Lagoons State Park. I arrived at the park just as they took the group photo–over 30 people of all fitness levels looked forward to the 2.5 mile hike to the lagoon and 2.5 miles back. We trooped across the beach and then headed up the trail. I am not one for group trips and it felt a bit like a wagon train walking up hill and over dale. If I had been a part of a pioneer train I would have volunteered to be a scout to get a chance to see off in the distance. Occasionally the park ranger leading the walk would stop and give us information about flora and fauna.
We arrived at the lagoon and people spread out to eat their lunches at picnic tables and along the shore. I decided to head straight back so I could have the trail to myself and walk at my own pace. It took much less time to get back. There is only a shack like outhouse at the lagoon so I was happy to see the slightly nicer version at the parking lot. The hike began at 11:00 a.m. and now it was 2:00 p.m The parking lot was overflowing and a few groups had built campfires.
I overhead lots of conversations and while some people are regular hikers, most people seemed to be acting on resolutions for 2014. It was a great way to start the new year whatever the motivation.
On another day H., N. and I took the dogs to Trinidad Head. You can park at the Trinidad State Beach or walk from the parking lot at the Marina and Seascape Restaurant. We walked from my rental home across the village. As you head up the hill you can turn right at the trail or continue to the left up the road. Going to the right is clockwise and involves a lot more up. The trail is protected from the wind by lovely hedges. There are numerous breaks with seating for whale watching or staring out to sea. It is not hard to imagine shipwrecks just off shore.
Gorgeous views all round Trinidad Head
The hike is only 1.5 miles round the head and over a mile is up if you go clockwise. Near the “top” is a cross put in place by the “club women”. The return on the road is a steepish downhill. The views of the bay and village are lovely. As we returned we were passed by an older gentleman who appeared to walk this trail everyday–a rigorous and healthy routine.
The walks to the Old Home Beach are too short to be called a hike. You can reach the beach from the Memorial Lighthouse in the village or from the Parker Creek trail. Both routes involve serious stairs and were a challenge to Radar’s creaky back legs. He was a trooper; although he could not see the sea lions just offshore and I dutifully kept him on leash, he really enjoyed the the variety of smells and sights along the shore.