Seals, camping and short walks on journey through Kaikoura

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2017 10:21 AM
14 December 2017
Seals, camping and short walks on SH1 journey through Kaikoura
People journeying on State Highway 1 (SH1) through Kaikōura this summer can camp overnight at Department of Conservation campsites or take a break for a walk or seal viewing in areas where access isn’t restricted due to earthquake damage or the highway rebuild.
SH1 reopens north of Kaikōura tomorrow (15 December) restoring the coastal highway link between Picton and Christchurch. The highway between Clarence and Mangāmāunu and Peketā and Goose Bay was most affected by damage from the November 2016 quake and these sections will close overnight from 8.30pm until 7am. No camping is allowed in these closure areas.
DOC South Marlborough Operations Manager Phil Bradfield said with the night-time closures and possible unexpected delays on the highway, people may choose to break their journey overnight or for shorter rest stops.
“DOC beachside campsites near SH1 north of Clarence are an option for overnight accommodation and there’s also several DOC tracks for a refreshing short walk. Seals can be seen at Kaikōura.
“Ōhau Stream is closed as it’s unsafe due to earthquake damage. Seal pups don’t gather there during summer. People need to stay away from the area for their safety.
“The Ōhau Stream waterfall pool, where seal pups played from late autumn until October, is filled with rock from the earthquake. The rock face it fell from is unstable with danger of further rockfall.
“The best place to view seals currently is at Kaikōura Peninsula, just south of the township, due to earthquake damage and road reconstruction in other places. Seals can be seen by walking a short way around the shoreline from Point Kean car park.
“Seals can also be seen from parts of the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway. Short walks can be taken on the walkway or it takes 3 hours to walk it in full and it has stunning views of the mountains and sea.
“People should keep 20 metres away from seals for their safety and to avoid disturbing them. It’s particularly important to keep distance from seals at this time of year when pups are being born and male bull seals are aggressive and territorial due to it being the mating season.”
Three DOC coastal campsites a short distance off SH1 north of Blenheim are options for overnight stops. They range from basic facilities at Robin Hood Bay campsite, to a higher level of services, including cold water showers, at Rārangi and Whites Bay campsites.
There are several short, easy walks from the campsites that take from 10 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. The Wairau Lagoons Walkway east of Blenheim is another easy walk that takes about 3 hours.
Further south is Marfells Beach Campsite, on the south side of Lake Grassmere. Then 9 kilometres north of Kaikōura, a short distance off the highway, there’s a small DOC campsite at Puhi Puhi Scenic Reserve where there is a short scenic bush walk.
South of Kaikoura, the Tweedies Gully Walk is an easy 1-2 hour return walk from the southern end of Gore Bay to a lookout with impressive views.
Also in the area is the Manuka Bay Track that links Manuka Bay with the mouth of the Hurunui River. The easy tramping grade track, with fantastic coastal views, takes 1 hour 45 minutes one way.
DOC tracks in the Ōkiwi and Half Moon Bay area north of Kaikōura and the Ōkiwi Bay campsite are closed due to earthquake impacts and highway reconstruction work.
More information about the short walk and camping opportunities near SH1 between Picton and Christchurch can be found on the DOC

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