28 March 2018: Wednesday.
Our time in Kaikoura really came to a climax on Friday but before we reached the place itself, I HAVE to share with you this picture of sheep crossing the road.
I was telling Flo at the beginning of our trip how much I’d love for our camper van to be surrounded by a flock of sheep while we very slowly crawled through them. So when this happened, I got mad excited! Ok they were very civilised and walked by the side of our car but it was so cool!! It was a promising start to the final leg of our road trip.
We didn’t have time to really see Kaikoura when we reached but we did manage to drive up to the lookout. Can’t fault that view that’s for sure!
Our camp was a little further up from Kaikoura – at Hapuku. It was one of the more basic campsites just by the beach. Looking out, we could see some youngsters catching the waves while surfing.
And even before the sun fully set, the moon hung high up in the sky, already shining brightly.
29 March 2018: Thursday.
We chose to have a relaxing day on Thursday beginning our morning at Hislops Cafe where we got our electronics charged up.
Tea for her. Coffee for him.
And ice-cream for him too. I noticed all through NZ the prevalence of real fruit ice-creams everywhere. The irony was that they used a vanilla based ice cream and just churned fresh fruit into it for flavour. So while definitely healthier with the fresh berries, the vanilla flavouring of the ice-cream kind of throws it off a little. At least for the one Flo bought at one of the shops here.
We strolled around Kaikoura town centre where there was a lot of marine life wall art.
And this really cute coffee truck that serves badass coffee. No decaf, no ‘funny’ milks, just straight up coffee. Since it was 3pm, none for me because I was about to go decaf with ‘trim’ milk – I’m super sensitive to caffeine after noon.
They had a spinning vinyl disc player with a porno-barbie spinning right round baby right round on it, a board with post-its which were essentially loyalty cards that customers needn’t carry around, and the overall vibe of the place was almost retro yet not quite, almost punk yet not quite.
Flo had a cappuccino and said it was good. Then again, we never really had bad coffee during our time in NZ. It’s a little like Australia in that aspect – above average coffee everywhere!
We decided to look around Kaikoura Peninsula where we walked up to another lookout point.
Then we walked on to Whaler’s Bay which was windy as heck but had awesome views of the sea and rocks. You can’t tell from here but there were fur seals lining some of the rock beds further out.
It was Hapuku campsite for another night. This was the only place we actually stayed at more than once. It was a quiet night with the moon shining brighter than a diamond… Until this smaller camper van pulled up alongside us and for a good 5min I kept hearing it rev.
I told Flo I thought they might be stuck and quickly, he went out and asked if the young British couple needed some help. Turns out their rear left wheel had sunk into soft sandy ground and the more they tried to get out, the deeper the wheel spun itself down. After about half an hour, I decided to brave the cold and see what I could do to help. There was another German lady camper who joined us as well. In the end, with the Brit girl taking the wheel and the three of us up front, we managed to heave the van (in reverse) and get it unstuck.
I was super proud of Flo for jumping in to help and for his clever suggestion to reverse the car out even though the Brit bloke was quite adamant to drive forward even though it was clearly not budging when attempted a few times already. I don’t know if I was much help really but hey, I’d like to think that some of my pushing helped release their van from its sticky predicament!
30 March 2018: Friday.
Good Friday! We worried that none of the cafes would be open but Kaikoura surprised us with lots of their shops still open to the bevy of locals and tourists alike. We decided to visit Beach House Cafe where I had a go at their Chai Latte.
It tasted good warm but once it cooled down, the sweetness was a bit much. Turmeric Latte still wins!
So this was the day we had spent the entire trip waiting for. Flo and I were to go whale watching!! While we contemplated taking the plane out, we decided in the end to take the boat since we could. We were there about 1.30pm and the briefing session began at 2.15pm. Then we were taken by bus to the harbour where we boarded Aoraki.
We went straight towards the Pacific Ocean, sitting right at the back of the boat so that my dear boyfriend could be the first to race up the stairs to the top deck when given the signal. And let me tell you! We were all seated in our comfy seats, looking out the window eagerly wanting to see something, anything apart from the ginormous albatross’ every now and then.
I was starting to tell myself not to get too excited because while the chances of seeing a whale was about 95%, I didn’t want to get my hopes dashed. Then suddenly, the boat started speeding up and we were told that we were chasing a whale! As we approached the area, we were given the go ahead to go to the open deck and before the announcement was finished, Flo was first up! And they say that Singaporeans are the ‘kiasu’ (scared to lose) ones.
The second I got up, I looked around and only saw blue. Then ahead…
This sperm whale was just right there bathing in the sunlight. And it was huge! SO huge that we could only see its front half and its back half one at a time.
Sperm whales are quite common in this area because its the feeding ground of young, lone males. Usually, they come to the surface for air and spend about 10min filling up their oxygen ‘tank’ before diving back down.
This one is a frequent visitor and is named Tiaki. He’s apparently been feeding here for the last 25 years. He spent more than 15min with us until we got impatient for him to bid us goodbye so that we could get his tail shot. I took videos of Tiaki actually because photos can only do so much but they’re pretty long so I took some stills from the video just for you!
And there we have it! Tiaki finally bidding us farewell with a flick of his tail and a dive deep into the dark ocean depths. After he left us I actually felt a little sad. 😦 Because he was going down all alone and sometimes it’s nice to have company. I suppose perhaps he might have some other whale friends… I hope so anyway.
After our whale encounter, our boat headed back towards shore.
But not without having a whole school of dolphins coming to join us! We were treated to about 200 Common and Dusky dolphins who decided to come swim alongside our boat.
They were incredibly playful and acrobatic, leaping in and out of the water and showing off with some synchronised jumps that were electrifying to watch.
They were gorgeous to watch and really, every single person on that boat had a smile on their face the whole time. The friendly nature of the dolphins was so infectious.
I swear, this entire day was the perfect high to our awesome road trip. I cannot imagine any other holiday coming close enough to this one in terms of what we saw, experience and did. And let’s just say another proposal is highly unlikely so NZ takes my heart on this one for always.
Even though we still had Christchurch to go before flying back to Singapore, I consider Kaikoura to be the last part of our official road trip. So below are just quick snippets of what we did back in the city.
After our whale watching, we drove to Lyttleton, a short way down from Christchurch, where we spent the night.
31 March 2018: Saturday.
We returned our trusty camper van that really roughed it out well for us throughout the three weeks. Then we took the bus into town…
Where Flo had a new haircut and shops started closing at 4pm!! Even in the city they close early on the weekend. 😦 So we went to this coffee place
It’s called C1 Espresso.
Flo was peckish so he had an GF Orange Almond Cake with Coconut Yoghurt. The former was yummy! The latter was meh..
I tried their Beetroot Latte which came a lovely shade of pink, together with a little chocolate egg for the Easter Weekend.
I had it with almond milk and why you ask? I don’t know! I’ve had almond milk a number of times and always find it truly gross! Then I thought ok why not try it with beetroot in latte form but still, the flavour of it comes through anyway so note to self: Never get almond milk anything!
As per Tripadvisor (#1 eatery in Christchurch) and Flo’s hairstylist’s recommendation, we went to this hidden food court to try burgers from Bacon Brothers. I say hidden because the faced of the place looked so much like a pub that we found it difficult locating the stall.
We somehow found our way in and lo and behold, we were greeted with hoards of people already milling around trying to decide what their dinner would be. And it was not yet 6pm! Luckily, we found a table that had just been vacated and Flo went to order our food.
It took about a half hour before our burgers arrived. Heft man-burgers made with toasted ciabatta (which is SOOOO much better than them too-sweet buttery brioche buns that everywhere in SG seems to use these days), fresh NZ beef, vibrant rocket leaves, and naturally juicy tomatoes.
I ate Lil Jim which featured Pure Angus Beef Pattie, Rocket, Tomato, Cheese and Pickle. Pickles as in gherkins which were refreshing. Not those pickle slices like in McD’s. lol.
Flo ate Andy the Electrician. Which was essentially the same burger than I had but with additional bacon.
That marked our final night and our final meal in NZ. We slept a few hours at a B&B near the airport in a tiny attic with terribly soft mattresses – Flo on the twin bed and I on this kiddy bed. We laugh now but it was definitely a far cry from the pictures we had seen.
It was truly an epic 3 weeks with Flo. NZ is filled with so much natural beauty. At every turn there is so much to see. With every minute, the landscape changes with the angle of the sunlight. Sitting right back here amidst the bustle of Singapore’s city life, it is hard to imagine that merely a few weeks ago, we were waking up every day to a different scenery, in a different place.
Flo drove close to 4000km over our 21 days. Our staple meals consisted mainly of sandwiches and pasta. And a small confession – both of us dared not do our #2 in the camper van which explains why we usually visited one cafe a day. It definitely wasn’t just for coffee.
We had our fair share of arguments for sure. In front of the camera, there are always smiles and laughter. And of course we had many of those. We created so many special moments and amazing memories. Ones that I hope never to forget. But yes, the transition from the comforts of SG to the camping life of NZ was an adjustment for me, and I won’t lie, after the wonderful proposal, my
eagerness impatience to kick off the wedding planning, gave rise to arguments. One thing’s for sure, in every relationship, there are highs and lows. We definitely had more highs than lows, but the lows helped us understand each other even better, and come away stronger.
The memories that Flo and I made together will forever be etched within my being. I feel immensely blessed and thrilled that Flo chose me to spend the rest of his life with. And I chose him right back. I am still touched by the effort he put in to finding me the perfect ring, then proposing to me on a gorgeous beach with just the two of us and the setting sun. Simply the two of us, sharing that one special moment, meant the world to me.
Before the end of the year, we will be two people bound into one flesh. At times, it all seems so surreal. The thought of being with Flo forevermore. It fills me with excitement, joy, hope, and a tinge of fear. But I think every great adventure begins with those feelings. As much as I thought that no other trip will ever top NZ’s, I can see now that the journey that Flo and I will soon embark on will be the mother of all epic trips – the highlight of my life.