Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Kaikoura" is Maori for "heaven on earth", or at least it should be

I'm not big on crying. It wasn't even a temptation during The Notebook and I rolled my eyes at Les Mis.  Okay, lest ye think I have a heart of stone, there are a few isolated incidences like the Disneyland commercial with One Republic's "Good Life" playing in the background and an embarrassing choking up episode involving the girls from Club Dance and a Disney show. I'm not proud of that one. But the point is, I really don't tear up that often, but this weekend as we explored one of the most beautiful places in the world with the people who are my world, I felt that unfamiliar sting in my eyes on a few different occasions. Every time I felt it coming on I gave fair warning, and it was always met with a famous Kylie eye roll and a "please don't mom".  We finally took that birthday trip to Kaikoura that I had been rainchecking and re-rainchecking for the past month.  We got there friday night and stayed in a cute little cabin at a campground. We woke up with the sun streaming through the windows and I just knew it was going to be a good day. Correction, an amazing day. Legend has it that there is a waterfall filled with baby seal pups, so that was an obvious first stop. The drive out there was the stuff legends are made of too. Each side of the road was competing for our attention. Turquoise blue waters on the right, and green rolling hills framed by snow capped peaks to the left.



We finally found it, a quiet unassuming trail leading to the most amazing sight I've ever seen.  If this were in the States it would have been marked with Vegas style lighting and plagued with churro and t-shirt stands. Aside from a few hikers here and there, it was just us and about 100 seal pups.  The trail up was dotted with baby seals sleeping on rocks or jumping and making their way up stream.  Once you get there it's unreal.  They are jumping off rocks, wrestling each other, flipping through the air and having the time of their lives.  We just sat there soaking it all in, while trying to ignore Maddox who was crying about being cold and who eventually got stuck on the slippery rocks while trying to run away and needed rescuing. Man, every party needs a pooper. But it was magical while it lasted.









While the babies swim up stream to play, the moms lounge around at the mouth of the river and sunbathe all day.  Sounds about right.  They weren't quite as fun to watch, they don't move much and growl if you get too close.  But still amazing to see wildlife in nature and especially when that nature takes your breath away. 



We were visited by this Albatross, don't be fooled, it was massive.  I took this picture 100 feet away with my zoom lens because I was afraid it would peck my eye out. 




The water is amazing, but the beaches leave much to be desired. Such a shame. This was the only decent patch of sand and it stunk really bad.  We sort of did the plug your nose and chew thing while eating our picnic, with the occasional smile and head nod to cover up the fact that we had all lost our appetites.  But the kids loved exploring.  The tide pools were covered with these plant things that popped whenever you stepped on them, it was like a giant roll of bubble wrap laid before our eyes.  There were all sorts of creatures and shells to be discovered and we soon forgot about the smell.





And then New Zealand went and blew my mind again. It's been doing that a lot lately. We walked up to the top of the peninsula bank where they have this track all around the edge that pretty much makes you pinch yourself the entire time.  The views are that amazing. We virtually had the entire peninsula to ourselves, the sun was beaming, the greens were green, the blues were blue, the cows were grazing, the silence was golden and as we sat at the edge of the world eating handfuls of homemade granola I knew there would be few moments in life that could top this. It goes without saying that we have our hard days like all families, the days where I want to scream if I hear the word "mom" just one more time and little boys that keep coming out of bed to ask you to say prayers that they won't have bad dreams about the zombie games they were just playing, or to remind them of the lyrics to Hickory Dickory Dock, or to talk about the mummy they saw in the museum, and do you really want me to go on and on about the dialogue I've just had with Maddox over the past hour when he was supposed to be in bed?  I'm just grateful for the moments that make me realize what a beautiful life I have and the moments that make me love this family of mine so hard it hurts.













I could have stayed up there all day, and all night, and quite possibly the entire next week, but the kids wanted to venture down along the coast and scour for treasures in the form of rocks, fossils, shells, starfish, bones and some poor animal's spine that Ryder had an awfully hard time parting with.




He had his little pocket filled with treasures and I loved the ritualistic little pat he gave it each time he added a new item.





The seals were everywhere, dead seals, live seals, growling seals, friendly seals...it kept us on our toes after almost stumbling on them a few times.



We ended the night with fish n' chips on the beach.  I'm not a fan of the deep fried fish, but the chips...yeah, those I could eat for days.  And that table with a view was definitely worth writing home about.  And day 2 will have to wait for another post, because this is just too much pretty for one post to handle.



9 comments:

Kyoo said...

Kaikoura...yes. Yes yes. I remember that drive and my jaw-dropping the whole time. And it was cloudy! It was cloudy the whole time we were in Kaikoura and that peninsula hike was still stunning. There was only one seal sunning and it was still something to write home about. We stopped to hike to the waterfall and it was gorgeous. Such a rewarding sight for a 5-minute hike! Even without the seal pups. This post brought back such good memories!! Now please go to Abel Tasman and the West Coast and Milford Sound and post a million pictures...

Ali said...

Now I'm wondering how you'll ever be able to write a post which tops this one!!! - the experience and the photos are so endlessly beautiful... !!

It was very hard to pick my favourite shot but it's probably around the cows in front of the bay in front of the mountains. And as for the idea of a stream bubbling with baby seals, I see with my eyes that it is real, but I'm still struggling to comprehend it. MARVELLOUS!!!

Thanks for sharing all this beauty
Ali

Jodee said...

Holy moly lady, where do you live!!!??? That is gorgeous! I am still baffled by those seals playing in the waterfall. You just would have never thought...
I am so glad that birthday trip was worth the wait, sound dreamy and looks amazing!

Jodee said...

one more thing... Ryder and that spine--so gross and so so funny!

Tyson and Dawn Jolley said...

I can't believe views and landscapes like these really exist! I can't wait for fall pictures, I bet it's going to be leaf heaven! Looks like you've forgotten all about dry, monsoon stricken Az...and I'm glad you have, cause I'm pretty sure your as close to heaven on earth as it gets!

Janessa said...

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Each picture took my breath away. I can't imagine seeing it all in person! Wow! What an experience. I'll bet your kids will never forget this. And if they do, you'll have some amazing photos to bust out and remind them. That first picture of the seal pup looking upside down at you is just too cute! All the scenery pictures are just fabulous! You should contact National Geographic and see if you can work a deal with them. Make a little travel money on the side:) I have to say you are one good mama. I don't know if I could let my kid carry around an unknown animal spine. That is quite a treasure though! Can't wait to see more pics of your trip!

Janette said...

Stunning scenery!! Thanks for sharing!!

Marcee Foster said...

Stop! Baby seals, picnics, homemade granola, breathtaking views?!? There's a reason I stay away from your blog. :)

Dr. Mulder said...

ok, amazing as always, but the picture of Jayden doing the power arm on the rock...um, I think we'll blow that one up for our wall! LOVE IT!