Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs: Success At Last
Early morning seemed to indicate a very sunny day in Kaikoura. We woke about 06:30 with bright sunlight streaming in through our window. Early morning coffee in the room, seated at the table in the window proved quite comfortable. It also provided some indications that the bright light wouldn’t last. The Seaward Kaikoura Range wore thick grey clouds like a woolen hat, and proceeded to bundle itself in a matching scarf that soon hid Ohau Point.
We packed and ate a leisurely breakfast, then left the White Morph to check on the status of the Whale Watcher booking we’d made the day before for 10:30. There we were not surprised to learn that the weather precluded any whale watching today. Since our next stop, Hanmer Springs is only two hours by car away from Kaikoura, we shifted our booking to Tuesday and set off for the thermal springs at 11:00.
There are two alternative routes from Kaikoura up to Hanmer; we chose to turn off Highway 1 just five kilometers outside town and follow the Kowhai River valley up. This is a sealed road, but not otherwise designated (that we could see), and becomes quite a fun alpine road soon after the turn. Despite several areas of switch-backs, some mild rain, and one pause to allow a sheep herd to move around us along the road down-river to new pasture, we turned onto Highway 70 at Waiau by 12:00. Along the Waiau River, across the Emu Valley, through Rotherham and across a leg of a triangle we joined Highway 7 to Lewis Pass to the West Coast. Hanmer Springs is at the end of a short leg off Highway 7, called (curiously enough) Highway 7A. We arrived at Cheltenham House ( L & M E, hosts) by 13:00, merely one hour over the two hour estimate.
Success at last! Alas, our hosts left a notice they were not in and would be back at 14:15. No worries, we bundled back into the car and drove the half block to the famous Hanmer Hot Springs. Here we booked a private pool for 13:30 and enjoyed a half-hour soak in the mineral waters.
Following that, we strolled through town and feasted on meat pies for lunch. Then we headed back to Cheltenham House, pulling in just before our hosts, who I’d seen following us up the street in my rear-view mirror.
Tomorrow morning we shall ring up the Whale Watch folks to see if it’s a go; if it is we’ll head back to Kaikoura, turning right again in Waiau to head downhill quickly to Highway 1 at Inverness. If it’s off again due to weather, we’ll head down on Highway 7 until it joins Highway 1 to Christchurch. In either event, we’ll be into Christchurch tomorrow evening, back to Croydon House to catch our breath from this whirl-wind tour of the South Island before starting the marathon flight back to Kuma’s Playpen, our ranch in Florida.
Hanmer Springs is a marvelous place, and renting the private pool just the thing. Besides enjoying the hot spring water, we also spent the time making some photographs which, guess what, aren't scanned yet. I am continually shaking my head at myself for the fact. Here's the thing. I own a scanner which will handle either 35mm or 120mm film. Pretty much, if you've seen it here, that's how it got digitised. Now, though, a couple generations of computers (two laptops and a desktop) later, the drivers for that scanner are no longer compatible with the operating system. Progress, not so much.
There are some other photographs from the morning in our room at the White Morph that I've not posted either. And I'm not sure I will post those. Something of a double standard may be in play there, I don't know.
Oddly enough, I do not recall where we ate dinner that evening. As will be learned later, we spent a portion of the evening socialising with the hosts and other guests at Cheltenham House before going out to eat.
I'm absolutely suspecting that this retrospective is far more important to me than to most of y'all reading out there. There is some feedback, when I cross-post the link onto Facebook, however mostly the usual quietness of the ether.
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