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> The drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch
post Sep 21 2009, 05:42 PM
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Leaving Kaikoura south on Route One after having stopped at the Kaikoura Winery on the hill
You will certainly enjoy the next few kilometres as you skirt the sea on a curving route carved from the hills along the steep sides. A glance over the edge will reveal a jumble of rock strewn along the ocean and several volcanic sand beaches. A lot of local divers stop in this area to swim out to hunt for the local lobster with high success rates. One of the most scenic ocean drives on the east Coast reminiscent of the drive along the upper West Coast south of Westport. A spectacular drive with quite a few places to pull over and take photos or stop for a break.

At the Kowhai River both sides there are good parking areas an especially large one on the south side with another one not too far along also on the ocean side. Take extreme care not to leave any trash. Kaikoura is working hard to be the superb clean green image and it behooves us all to be there in that respect. I feel that is important everywhere really.

A few kilometres south of Kaikoura is a small airport with flights for whale watching and also a holiday park next door.. Another great place to freedom park is on the left before the Kahutara River. Also about 12 kilometres along there are several coastal camping sites. Go along to check in at Goose Bay just down the road a few kilometres on the right.

After this coastal area the road turns inland away from the ocean and into the hills at Oaro. (six kilometres from Goose Bay). Up the twisting, turning hills. A few kilometres you get the chance to take a 4 wheel adventure at Glenstrae Farm if so inclined. Soon you pass a sign announcing you arrival into the Hurinui District and some real sharp downhill curves to contend with. Plenty of passing lanes available though so be courteous and get the cars and trucks off your back bumper.
Itís good for everyone.

There are picnic spots and rest area at the bottom of the first hill. Fifteen kilometres from the initial climb from the ocean you reach the turnoff to Conway Flat. Worth the five kilometre drive
Down the road to the ocean. You wonít believe the trees. Great spot off the beaten path. Also right on the left after crossing the bridge is gravel drive that cuts back under the bridge and provides a real nice parking spot. We have noticed the train coming through at night though.

By now the road has reached the valley floor and most of the hills have been conquered this direction for awhile. It must be cold in this location with names such as Siberia Stream and Chilly Stream marking the local creeks. You are entering North Canterbury at this point and it really starts to flatten out. The long flat roads give a break from the hill crunching just completed.

The Leader Road turns west here toward Hanmer Springs and the Lewis pass to the West Coast. This is the road we recommend to Hanmer. It casually winds through the countryside without a great deal of effort. Paula reckons it is more like following a farmerís paddock lane. It is a good road with hardly any traffic and a shorter route to Hanmer than the one north of here most people take.

Right past Leader Road is the town of Parnassus where you are offered a free cup of coffee before continuing along Route One south. Continuing along the next place you can stop is at the Waiau River where a parking area has been created on the south side of the river. On the north on the right is a old historic bridge where also they have provided a good parking spot. From January to March the salmon run this river and interrupt the local brown trout.

On south we go next place of interest is the small town of Cheviot. Have a friend who has a gallery there that we think is worth having a look at. Not the usual stuff. We try to make our run through here so we can take the road to the left to Gore Bay a surfers hangout and a great place to camp next to the ocean with toilet and shower and electric available cheap. About 8kms to the spot.

From here on south we pass through large expanses of manicured farms bursting with sheep and cattle and the few deer farms. All of a sudden you enter Waipara Valley and the home of many of New Zealandís top wineries. Worth a stop at a couple to sample the award winning wines.

The next stop we always make is in the town of Amberley at the Noríwester Cafť for absolutely fabulous food and coffee. For a place to stay overnight take the road left to Amberley Beach where they have made available a very large area for campers to stay overnight providing toilets and limited electricity.

Our next stop going south is Pukeko Junction just a few kilometres south of Amberley. There is one of the best wine shops and galleries in the country there. If you want to buy some of the local Waipara wines this is where you can find most of them in one spot. Kevin, the owner, is very knowledgeable and extremely helpful in selecting the right wines for your taste.

From here on Route One we next go to Christchurch and out to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula once a French settlement and now demonstrating the historical influence in the names and buildings. Definitely worth the drive to see and experience.
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