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Off to the fabulous East Coast of the South Island! The drive to Kaikoura is about two hours direct. The drive from Blenheim to Kaikoura begins in the Marlborough wine region then turns into barren hills before reaching the East Coast.
Along the way you will pass New Zealand's salt works at Lake Grassmere. 1800 hectares of lakes where salt water is pumped in and evaporation takes place. Nearly 40,000 tons are treated. Visitors can stop by on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1:30pm for a guided tour.
Continuing south on Route One is The Store (45 minutes south of Blenheim) judged the best cafe in Marlborough. Great place to stop and enjoy the scenery and also a place to stay overnight by the ocean with a campervan.
On to Kaikoura along one of the most spectacular coastal scenes on the East Coast. Stop just north of Kaikoura to have close encounter with the many seals lying about during the day. Parking spots available. Several good overnight stopping places also. About 15 kms before Kaikoura on the left is the Hapuku Lodge. Great food also along with a vista you can't believe.
The town of Kaikoura is on a peninsula overlooked by majestic mountains. Very deep and plankton rich sea at its doorstep provides the habitat for marine mammals and sea birds. The area is renowned for whale, dolphin and albatross watching. The town of Kaikoura offers great cafes and art galleries (see the Pacific Allure Gallery of artist Brett Pettit). Plenty of accommodations and holiday parks available and all the amenities one needs. The best is the local New World but there is actually a butcher in the downtown area.
Just before getting into the main downtown area turn left toward the whale watch building where a large parking area is good for camper vans and easy access to the main town. If you go on and turn left in the downtown area not too far on the left is also a large car park and the Information Centre. Be sure to go on past the main segment of town and explore all the way to the turn around.
Kaikoura's early whaling history is featured at the Museum. One of the country's top festivals is held here, the Kaikoura Seafest. Have a look at one of the Kaikoura Information sites for the particulars. Don't miss going up the hill south of town to the Kaikoura Winery claimed to be the most scenic winery in New Zealand on the way south out of town on the right. Both north and south of Kaikoura there are many places to freedom camp plus some great camps along the sea and some of the finest camp grounds in the country.