After returning from our Abel Tasman hike we stayed in a hostel in Motueka and enjoyed a relaxing evening with a barbecue dinner and more important: a wonderful hot shower. The next day we awoke to a rainy day with very unfriendly weather. We were thinking how incredibly lucky we had been with the great weather during our Abel Tasman trek!
We enjoyed a luxurious breakfast with coffee, bacon and scrambled eggs before we took off and headed south again, this time however down the east coast.
Driving through the famous Marlborough wine region we passed by plenty of vineyards:
We crossed some passes:
And after several hours we got a first glimpse of the South Pacific Ocean at the horizon:
From there the road led us south, winding along the panoramic coast:
We made sure to take enough breaks so we could take in and enjoy the beautiful landscapes:
Shortly before we arrived at our final destination, Kaikoura, we passed by the Ohau Point which is a seal colony. Here we spotted many seals sunbathing on the rocks and little seals playing around. It was fun to watch their activities and we spent at least a half an hour just watching them:
Eventually we arrived in Kaikoura, a pretty town located on a peninsula that is backed by the snow-capped peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura range.
There are only few places in the world with so much wildlife around: whales, dolphins, seals, penguins and albatrosses all stop by or make this area their home. Marine animals are abundant here due to the ocean-current and continental-shelf conditions. The southerly current hits the continental shelf and brings nutrients up from the ocean floor and into the gradually sloped sea-bed. This makes a perfect feeding zone for animals all along the food-chain.
We arrived at the hostel in the afternoon and weather had not yet improved much. The sky was dark and cloudy and threatened to rain any minute:
Having skipped lunch we decided for an early dinner and prepared a delicious mushroom risotto with shrimps:
Accompanied by a matching Chardonnay:
After dinner it turned out that the weather had already improved and we enjoyed a little walk along the coast:
Having seen countless sheep all around the island we decided to visit a sheep shearing show the next day and hopefully learn a bit more about sheep farming in NZ:
To break the ice the first part consisted of feeding a little but very hungry baby lamb:
Then we moved inside the “authentic Kiwi shearing shed” and we got to feed a ram while Peter gave us a taste of traditional sheep shearing and information on wool types, sheep breeds, tools and the techniques & equipment of the past:
This intro was followed up by the very impressive sheep shearing show. After dressing in his shearers’ moccasins, Peter dragged the poor sheep from the stable and clamped it in a special position between his legs. The sheep did not rage or even try to escape, instead it endured the shearing procedure without as much as a wiggle.
Peter pointed out that the shearing might look easy, but the sheep immediately feel if the shearer is experienced and knows how to hold the sheep, or not. Only in the first case they hold really still and don’t try to escape.
A shearer typically begins by removing the wool over the sheep’s belly, which is separated from the main fleece by a rouseabout. If the shearer is experienced he will manage to take off the remainder of the fleece in one piece.
The unbelievable record for 8 hours of shearing sheep is 744 “Strongwool Lambs”. That means less than 39 seconds per lamb!
The result of a successful shearing is always the same: the “naked” sheep.
Following the shearing we learned how the raw sheep wool is processed and how little pay the sheep farmers get for a kilogram of impeccable wool. Depending on the type of sheep the pay is between 6 dollars for New Zealand Romney and 18 dollars for Merino wool:
This is the wool of the famous Merino sheep and one can easily tell the difference by the looks and the feel compared to the wool of the common sheep we had just sheared. So why don’t all farmers breed Merino sheep? The merino sheep can only be held in the highlands because the lower lands are too wet and moist for them and they quickly suffer from blackleg. From this piece of Merino wool to a ready to wear Icebreaker shirt it’s still quite a process, but this is the base material of our favorite no-stink-wear:
A large part of the sheep farming work is carried out by the farmer’s dogs. They are incredibly well trained and a few commands let them run behind the flock and herd them ahead. Please let us introduce you to Jed:
And here a look in the stable with a “naked”, “halfway dressed” and ready to shear sheep:
After this great demonstration with its many insights into the sheep farming and shearing business we went for a little walk along the coast:
Since we had been craving for some of Helmut’s hamburgers and couldn’t wait any longer, we decided to fire up the hostels barbecue and prepare some ourselves. Andy was the barbecue chef:
Soon we had all the ingredients for delicious hamburgers prepared:
And not long after, the first burger was ready to be devoured 🙂
Hmmmm, Yummy Yummy!
And after we finished the cokes we switched to this Sauvignon Blanc which (as you might guess :-)) was a splendid match:
On the next day we took off for our fishing trip we had previously booked. This was definitely the highlight of our visit in Kaikoura! We boarded the fishing boat and drove out to a fishing spot in the deep water:
On the way we hauled up some crayfish traps and filled them with fish heads as bait. Then we sunk them back down to the ground:
As we continued driving towards the fishing spot a swarm of dolphins appeared and followed our boat for some time. It was impressive to see these playful animals passing by the boat and jumping out of the water and performing their twists and turns:
When we reached the fishing spot, the boat stopped and we got a short explanation how to best fish. We all cast our fishing rods and just a few minutes later Tini already felt some tugging on her line. She rolled up the about 100 m line to see what was hooked and to her own surprise she had already caught a red cod and a sea snapper! Tonight’s dinner was safe 🙂
While it always looks so easy we quickly noticed that this is hard work, especially if you are untrained! You keep unwinding and winding up your line all the time and it doesn’t take long till your muscles begin to ache…
Shortly after Andy also caught two sea snappers:
As soon as we began to catch fish, large oversize seagulls started gathering around the boat. Smaller fish they sometimes stole right off the hook, before we could release them. And since the fish were immediately filleted by the crew they always got the innards and the fish heads…
Our two helpers, Steve and Jon who filleted the caught fish for us fresh from the hook:
Here the seagulls are fighting over some fish rests. They could become quite aggressive:
After about two hours of fishing we had caught enough fish for several dinners and our muscles were sore. We pulled in the lines and started our way to the harbor. On the way back we checked the traps for crayfish and after tossing all the small ones back we still had more than enough for our dinner. Here Andy is presenting the second course of today’s dinner 🙂
If you have a close look at the crayfish bellies you can see the difference between a male and a female. The one on the top is a female and the one on the bottom is a male. You can easily tell by the scales on the females lower abdomen:
After returning home we prepared our catch according to the fishermen’s recipe by dipping them in flour and frying them in the pan:
The first course of our dinner: potatoes with parsley, onions in mayonnaise and the delicious self-caught fish fillets:
One of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs, perfectly chilled:
But that had only been the first course and we still wanted to prepare the two crayfish we had caught. They are considered a real delicacy all around New Zealand and buying them raw from the market they can easily be priced at over 100 dollars per kilogram!
Following the advice of Steve and Jon we took them back alive in a black plastic bag. They did not move and were perfectly calm. Before cooking them however one is supposed to kill them. The recommended way is by drowning them… No joke! The way to do this, is by putting them in a sweet-water basin. We chose the biggest pot available, filled it with water and placed Harry and Sally in the pot. Since they had not moved since we took them out of the bag, we weren’t expecting much of a struggle. But that was were we were wrong. As soon as we placed them in the sweet water pot they started stretching and folding like crazy and splashed water everywhere. That really took us by surprise and before we managed to get a lid on that pot they had made quite a mess.
Harry and Sally after their final struggle:
Luckily their struggle only lasted shortly and once they were dead we steamed them for about 10 minutes, pealed the meat out and fried it in garlic butter for just a few minutes. The two crayfish were very tasty, but in the end there is not very much meat on them:
This fishing trip was one of the highlights of our Kaikoura visit. We had tons of fun riding out in the boat even before we started fishing. We had not expected to catch very much as we had never fished before, but once we started we kept hauling in one fish after the other. The thrill of the chase carried us away.
In the end however the fishing had not only been for the sake of the sport, but we got to eat our catch and seldom have we eaten such tender and fresh fish! From catch to supper it had been less than 2 hours!
All in all a very memorable outing worth every penny.