The NZMCA park in Kaikoura is just across the road from the beach. What could be better than a gentle evening stroll along the beach as the sun goes down? Plenty of people agreed with us, as there were crowds taking in the atmosphere last night. It was a lovely finale to our first night here.
Kaikoura beach in the evening
Last year Kaikoura suffered a huge earthquake which did immense damage to the road and rail link, leaving this town cut off from some time. The coastline was raised dramatically, and our stay here gave us the chance to see some of the changes. South Bay now has a raised coastline, with rocks now lifted up, which were previously covered by sea water.
Kaikoura is a peninsular so there was plenty of coastline to view, and we drove around to the New Wharf. Built in 1909, the new wharf is not so new any more, and was full of families (and a couple of patient dogs) enjoying a day out fishing. With such warm weather, it certainly was a great day for fishing.
Fishing off the New Wharf
There was plenty of uplifted rocks from the earthquake to see around this part of the peninsular too.
More uplifted rocks on Kaikoura’s coastline
We called in to visit Fyffe House, an historic property administered by Heritage New Zealand. As members of this association we qualified for free entry.
This historic house is built on the “bones of whales” and is all that remains of Waiopuka Whaling Station. It really is built on top of whale bones, and we were shown where vertebrae bones were laid as a foundation to support the house.
Whalebone vertebrae peeping through , and a full sized bone on the step
European settlement of Kaikoura began in 1842 when Scotsman Robert Fyfe established a whaling station. His cousin George Fyffe (they spelt their surnames differently) joined Robert later. Harpooned whales, mostly Southern Right Whales, were dragged to a large rock shelf in the bay near Fyffe House and their flesh removed and boiled down for oil. Southern Right Whales were already rare in the 1840s and their numbers soon collapsed. At this time George Fyffe and many of the whalers turned to sheep and dairy farming to make a living.
We spent a little time looking through the downstairs part of the house, then climbed the terribly narrow staircase – people obviously had much more dainty feet in those days.
Inside Fyffe House
Fyffe House was occupied by only three families over the years, the Fyffe’s 1842-1868, the Goodall’s 1868-1920, and the Lows 1920-1980. The last remaining Low family member donated the house to Heritage New Zealand in his will.
Whale bones at Fyffe House
Then we drove up to the lookout to see the sights, which took in both sides of the peninsular and the surrounding mountain range.
Views from the top
A friendly German tourist took our photo for us.
Kaikoura is now back to it’s bustling best, chock full of tourists, which is really the life blood of the town. The Whale Watch and other industries are up and running again, after a long slow year with visitors unable to get through to Kaikoura due to the huge damage on SH1 after the big earthquake.