Kia Ora, Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a neat little sea town with mountains in the back and lots of tourist activities in the front. I had to walk 7 kilometres out of town to my camping spot at Peketa Beach as noone picked me up that day.


IMG_1423I walked by a public dirt track where people whirled up some dust with drives and drifts. Man, kiwis love their cars. I reached the site by 10 or so – just as the lady in the shop was about to head home. Lucky me. I pitched my tent one meter away from the beach, smoked one and fell asleep to the sound of the waves.


The next day, I made a friend called Dickby, a campsite worker and character. He was so kind and even borrowed me his bike. One the following day, I took the bike to Mount Fyffe, a 1600 m hill, enlightening the way to the Kaikoura Range.

The bike was a tough mate, rusty and the brakes would touch the wheel once every rotation. Taking it up short-cut recommended from Dickby was a literal pain in the ass. The woods were filled with beetles, creating an orchestra of clacking and chirping sounds, so loud it was almost hurting.


Up the even gravel path, it was dusty and hot. A fellow German who didn’t intend to go all the way up, and gave me something to drink which I was really in need of. I was already sunburnt, dripping in sweat, and down more than half of my bottle. I had started the hike at 1, and somehow reached Mount Fyffe Hut by 4 pm due to the help of some lollies and candy bars from Peketa Beach.


I made it the to the top by 5:30, the Kowhai Valley to my left, the flat Kaikoura township and peninsula to my right. Other hikers intended to find a lake up in the range that has been created by the enormous earthquake of 2016.



I was exhausted and reached the bike by 8:30. And Dickby’s short-cut turned out to be quite fun on downhill, and I discovered the amateur mountain-biker in me (I only fell once).

But Kaikoura is not really famous for Mount Fyffe or hidden bike routes. If you take a closer look at the picture above, the blues of the water have different intensity, due to shallower grounds and an exhaustingly steep cliff around the peninsula. Kaikoura is therefore rich in food which attracts fish, birds, and mammals. The NZ hotspot for whale watching.

Franky Fantail and his yellow Sock


Franky Fantail
was small and frail.
His tail was crooked,
He was simply overlooked.
But he was proud as a peacock
‘Cause Franky had a yellow sock.

That’s why it was quite a shock
When Franky saw a hole in his beloved, yellow sock.
Franky was down but hopeless he was not,
Someone in the forest could surely tie a knot.
Maybe Patty the Frog
could sew his sock.

“I catch flies and swim in the pond”
Said Patty the Frog and drifted beyond.
“Find Billy the Beaver.”
“He could surely be a weaver!”
And Franky got the thrills
“Billy Beaver must have the skills!”

“I build dams and trees are what I log.”
Said Billy Beaver who couldn’t sew the yellow sock.
“Find Morris the Mouse”,
Said Billy Beaver from his house.
So Franky Fantail jumped on the beaver’s raft,
“He’s the mouse to ask, and surely has the craft!”

“I dig holes and sometimes a ditch!”
Said Morris the Mouse who clearly couldn’t stitch.
“Find someone else, you little goof.”
Said Morris the Mouse and jumped off his roof.
But Franky was so sad and itty-bitty
So Morris the Mouse said: “I feel pity.”

This was quite a shock
“Is there no one who could sew my sock?”
Franky was down and hopeful he was not.
Cause no one here could tie a knot.
He loved his sock with heart and soul,
But his yellow sock still had a hole.

Franky Fantail
was desperate and pale
When a charming voice came from a tree
It was Fanny Fantail he would see.
“What is it that bothers your flock?”
“We can’t find noone to sew my sock.”

The fine Fanny Fantail flew down the tree,
And said to Franky eagerly:
“Follow me, I know who could!”
She took him by the wing and would
Bring Franky Fantail to a web unknown,
“It is Sonya the Spider’s home!”

Patty the Frog lit up with glee
Billy Beaver as happy as the free,
Morris the Mouse was filled with bliss
And Fanny Fantail gave Franky a kiss.
Sonya Spider was the best for the job,
And sewed up fast that yellow sock.

Franky Fantail
Was small and frail.
His tail was crooked,
And Franky simply overlooked.
But Franky Fantail was proud as a peacock,
Cause he had friends and his beloved, yellow sock.


Stewart Island/Rakiura #2: Tales & Truths

Digging deep into Stewart Island’s history, it is hard to avoid the stories and myths that locals whisper in the wind and dusty library books hold secret. I’ve been listening carefully, to those that were born and raised here, those that chat away, those that say they witnessed some of the following incidents. Here is a collection of the local legends I came across but as with most mythical stories, I cannot guarantee for their accuracy.

Whether you believe them or not, you need to differentiate between fact and fiction. As pun-master Jonathan Frakes in Beyond Belief put it:

“Is this story a product of a writer’s imagination? Or have we unlocked the truth?”

Continue reading Stewart Island/Rakiura #2: Tales & Truths

Stewart Island/Rakiura #1: Basics of NZ’s Shark Research

The world of sharks is enormous; there are around 530 known species swimming in the earth’s oceans and lots of them do so around New Zealand – a fact that has kept me from swimming far out but I’d happily assist a marine scientist with applied shark research on Stewart Island/Rakiura. I was honoured to serve NZ’s oldest university, keen to see some not-in-a-tank, bad-ass sharks, and also, really looking forward to brag with “We do shark research” in the local pub.

Continue reading Stewart Island/Rakiura #1: Basics of NZ’s Shark Research

A Brief Introduction to Kiwi Politics and How I Yelled at New Zealand’s New Prime Minister

We were walking to the gym, it was sometime between 8 or 9 am. Across the street, we saw a cop in front of the Westpac Bank on George Street (Dunedin’s main street). We lowered our pace in hope for a little exciting bank robbery. Suddenly, three big men walked out, wearing sunglasses and headphone cables that disappeared in the suit. Behind them walking to the car – was New Zealand’s new Prime Minister (PM) who was currently campaigning for the Labour Party in Dunedin.

Continue reading A Brief Introduction to Kiwi Politics and How I Yelled at New Zealand’s New Prime Minister

Shearing Sheep the Kiwi-Way and How to Wrestle them, too

I wouldn’t have been able to describe it better than Alana (a friend and true Kiwi) did on her blog: “Sheep and New Zealand go together like Marmite and cheese, bangers and mash, $10 bottles of wine and a fresher Byo.” What she meant was that if you ever dive into New Zealand’s economic history or find yourself in a conversation with a native, sooner or later it will come down to sheep.

Continue reading Shearing Sheep the Kiwi-Way and How to Wrestle them, too

Monarch Cruise in Otago Harbour

Maybe not the best weather to do a Springtime boat tour, but going aboard the Monarch is an opportunity, I wouldn’t let slip away so easily. Fortunately, I was able to join and assist the filmmaking students on this assignment. Get your waterproofs on ’cause it’s gonna get wet, Continue reading Monarch Cruise in Otago Harbour