The landscape and seabed has changed dramatically in Kaikoura since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 14 November 2016, and it is well worth considering an overnight visit to view the changes.
This issue we’re providing updates on walking and hiking trails around the Kaikoura District. Thankfully, most of the regular hiking trails are open and the town is ready to welcome visitors.
Kaikoura’s famed diverse and prolific marine life has not been affected at all. On the contrary, local tourism operators have said the whale, dolphin, seal and albatross viewings have in fact been the best, if not better, than before the earthquake – heartening news for the local community and tourists alike.
Kaikoura Peninsula Walk
The District’s signature walk, the Kaikoura Peninsula Walk from the Point Kean seal colony to South Bay is open and provides wonderful new vistas out along the coastline with the uplifted seabed.
Previously at high tide all the rocks (seabed) were covered with water but now the new high tide level is shown with the green coloured rocks.
At low tide you can now walk out 1km on the seabed and visit the new ‘teenage seal hangout’ on the right hand side of the Point Kean seabed with the traditional ‘retirement village’ of seals by the left side of the carpark.
It’s a two-hour return walk excluding time you may like to have walking out on the uplifted seabed.
Definitely worth adding extra time to walk out on the seabed at Point Kean and South Bay.
Or something new, walk around the whole Peninsula at low tide. This was not possible pre-quake.
Mt Fyffe and Seaward Kaikoura Range
The 8-hour return Mt Fyffe and Seaward Kaikoura range (1602m) track up to Mt Fyffe Hut and on to the summit of Mt Fyffe, are open.
Superb views over the Kaikoura plains and peninsula reward those who climb on Mt Fyffe. On a clear day the view at higher levels includes Banks Peninsula and the North Island.
From Mt Fyffe carpark follow the 4WD road up the mountain’s long south-west ridge. The road goes right to the summit.
Those wanting a shorter journey could go as far as Mt Fyffe Hut (5 hours return) or the lookout point near a fire-pond, which is just an hour above the carpark. Mountain bikes are permitted on the Mt Fyffe Track.
It is very steep; both the ascent and descent will challenge those who try it. Stay in control of your bike and give way to walkers.
This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
The Kaikoura Coast 2-Day Walking Track
Kaikoura’s coastal track is a breathtakingly beautiful two-day walk.
Discover a coast with abundant marine life, tussock covered tops and farmland. You’ll relax at lunch shelters with great views while enjoying a hot drink.
You’ll tramp through bush filled gullies to views of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains rising out of the vast Pacific Ocean.
A reinvigorating walk for those of reasonable fitness, 13km per day and only ten walkers on the track per day. Open October-April, bookings essential. http://kaikouratrack.co.nz/
Other Short Walks
• Ohau Stream and Waterfall walk (and seals) will reopen when SH1 reopens in December 2017
• Fyffe-Palmer Track – a 75-minute loop track starting at the Mt Fyffe road carpark, a 10 minute drive from the Kaikoura Township to carpark. Turn down Ludstone Rd which merges into Red Swamp Rd. Turn left onto Postmans Rd and follow until at base of Mt Fyffe carpark.
• Hinau Walk – a short 45-minute loop track highlighting different tree species of Hinau, Mahoe, Putaputaweta, Broadleaf, Tree Fuschia, Pigeonwood and a stand of Kanuka. Start of track at Mt Fyffe carpark.
• Haumuri Bluff – a moderate to hard walk. Limestone bluffs, minerals and fossils and sometimes you can spot marine life. A 15-minute drive south on SH1. Tidal access required. No entry through Oaro settlement.
• Puhi Puhi Reserve – a flat 30-minute loop track a scenic reserve and lowland Podocarp forest. Drive 12kms north of Kaikoura, turn left up Puhi Puhi valley. A windy gravel road so please take care driving.
Has the November earthquake uncovered Kaikoura’s own version of the Moeraki Boulders?
Spherical rocks which resembled “dinosaur eggs” are part of the uplifted seabed at Gooch’s Beach with rocks “as big as beach balls” been found on the east coast shoreline nine months after the 7.8-magnitude disaster.
Bare Kiwi owner Kyle Mulinder said “I was walking around enjoying the sunset, and saw these perfectly round rocks,” he said.
“The locals are saying that they didn’t know they were there. To find perfect, perfect circles like that is very crazy. This place keeps on giving gifts. The rocks vary in size and some of them were severed in half. Some of the rocks have split through the middle. The result did remind him of the famed Moeraki Boulders on the Otago coast. This is another part of the newest coastline in New Zealand showing itself,” Mulinder said.
“I feel like instead of a natural disaster taking everything away, it keeps on giving little gifts.”
Mulinder uploaded a video of the boulders to his Facebook page, and he said some commenters believed the rocks were concretions.
A concretion was a compact mass of mineral matter that had embedded in a host rock.”
The Hope Springs
Another natural phenomenon revealed by the earthquake was still present at Whaler’s Bay, off the Kaikoura Peninsula.
A week postquake two Kaikoura Kayak guides (Matt Foy and Conner Stapley) were out kayaking and saw some bubbling on the water surface in Whalers Bay.
They paddled out and it looked like someone had turned on a spa pool from underneath with a very strong smell of sulphur.
Dr Matthew Hughes of Canterbury University says the bubbles are likely dissolved gases in the sea floor which have become exposed by new cracks in the rock which has opened up around 50 meters from the shoreline and exposed carbon dioxide which is causing bubbles to rise to the surface.
The bubbles are a combination of several different gases, but the strong smell likely comes from hydrogen sulfide. Dr Hughes says it is a “magical little silver lining” for the tourist town.
The name ‘Hope Springs’ was created by Conner for 3 reasons, firstly being that his daughter is named Hope, for the Hope Fault that lays underneath which could be contributing to the bubbles and also ‘New Hope’ for Kaikoura after the 7.8 earthquake which rocked the community.
“I believe, it’s going to be a new attraction for tourists in Kaikoura” says Matt Foy, owner of Kaikoura Kayaks.
New Cycleway & Walkway along SH1
Minister of Transport Simon Bridges announced in August exciting news for the District with a Government investment of $231 million to create a new cycleway along State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura.
A 60-kilometre section of the quake-hit highway is set to receive funds for a new separated cycleway and walkway between Okiwi Bay and Mangamaunu which will provide a safer and more enjoyable way for people to experience this section of the iconic coastline on foot or by bike.
These improvements will provide for great journeys and support economic growth in the district.
Prior to visiting Kaikoura for hiking, check status of tracks on http://www.kaikoura.co.nz/see-do/kaikoura-walks/ or visit the Kaikoura i-SITE on arrival in town along West End or phone 03 319 5641 or email email@example.com.
When the Department of Conservation has had a chance to review tracks that are currently closed, this page will be updated.
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