I’ve heard so many good things about the Kaikoura Wildnerness Walk, I couldn’t miss out. My friend and I decided to book early in the season so we could still admire the pristine snow fallen on the mountains a couple of months before. The walk is available from October to March.
We got picked up from our backpackers in Kaikoura at 9am sharp. We drove up the scenic Puhi Puhi valley and got dropped off at the starting point of the walk. An hour later, we were ready to face one of the most beautiful walks New Zealand has to offer.
The first part was familiar, mostly ferns! But I had to take back my words when I got to the top – the views were stunning. After lunch, we climbed down the other side of the valley and reached a stream.
A couple of hours of easy walking, Shearwater Lodge finally appeared in front of our eyes. But still, we had another hour to go to get there. Owner Nicki McArthur welcomed us when we arrived and then we relaxed and enjoyed the peacefulness of the place with a sumptuous meal and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
What we didn’t know when we went to bed that night is how the following day would leave us speechless.
Happy Valley was our first point of interest on our walk the following morning. At this point, we have reached the sub-alpine environment and we felt like we were miles away from the rest of the world.
We were right in the heart of the valley surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Kaikoura Ranges. They say red deer abound – we were on the lookout but in vain.
Then the hard work started. We climbed up some 1500m above sea level and, breathless, accessed our ultimate destination. It is one of those days where you realise how lucky you are - the sky was a perfect blue.
We could see home, Christchurch, on the right and some land we believed was the North Island on the left. We had lunch in this spectacular location, what they call Surveyor’s Peak Lookout, and returned to the comfortable Shearwater Lodge.
Our glass of wine were well deserved once again after an intense 5 hour walk, taking in the odours and the scenery.
We began our third day with an easy walk to the Beverley Falls in the morning. We headed back to Shearwater Lodge for lunch and then started the walk out. As shown on the map, we took a different path on our way back, downhill for a good part of the 4 hours needed to get back to Puhi Peaks Station.
Along the way, our guide spotted the Hutton’s shearwater, the only New Zealand seabird that breeds in a sub-alpine environment. What is even more surprising is that they only breed in that area.
We learned that Nicki volunteers time to assist local DOC efforts and helped organise a fundraiser that raised $200,000 needed to construct a predator proof fence for the new colony.
We took a couple of last photo shots and returned to the backpackers we stayed at three nights before. The same backpackers, but a different person.
For more information on Kaikoura Wilderness Walk and for bookings, contact Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Centre. We offer free expert information and booking service.
Phone: +3 379 9629
Fax: +3 377 2424
Find us on facebook: Christchurch & Canterbury NZ