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Seal The Deal

January 28, 2011

Seal The Deal

Kaikaura is brilliant.  This is not a city, or a town.  It is a beach with a few buildings lucky enough to be built around it.  Simple.  And a perfect last spot for unwinding our final few days of the honeymoon.

We got in late that night and found a place to rest our head.  We could smell the ocean air and were excited for the morning.  Up early to explore our surroundings, we found a main drag with a few cafes, a library the size of my car, a couple open air pubs serving local fare and suds, a pier with a sign that says “Robert will be back 9am tomorrow.”  Looking good.

Friends and books told us that this was a marine animal lovers perfect nook.  They were right…and Nikki was ecstatic.  First thing in the morn…she sprinted from our hotel door towards the street looking for a whale, or a koala riding a whale down the sidewalk.  Regrettably, there was none. So, the first thing we did was book a kayak adventure to go around the peninsula and to introduce ourselves to the native seal colony. 

Simon, our kayak tour dude, told us, they are just like napping dogs, unless they go swimming or if you get too close.  “What do you mean Simon, too close?” I inquired.  He nonchalantly answered, “The males will stick out their chest, bum rush you, and bite you…they are quite aggressive.”  I told Nikki that she could ride up front then.

Off we paddled.  The sun beat down on us, the ocean swelled.  I smelled something off, something that reminded me of college.  It was vomit.  And it was on my lifejacket.  “Oh, Yeager-bombs Simon, someone puked in this jacket and it stinks, son!”  His response was priceless…”Oh, we haven’t had someone spew for years out here, but yesterday, oh yeah, that’s right, she was a spewer, that must’a been her jacket.”

I flipped it around and kept paddling.  This was the only solution I could think of in the middle of the ocean…I was going to be breathing in someone’s rotted DNA for the next few hours.   Nikki could have cared less and told me to paddle harder towards the promised seal-land.

Around the bend.  Up to the cliff line…there they were on the rocks, huge seals.  Chillin’.

Nikki, the seal-scientist explained, this seal is keeping one eye on me and winking at her.


The seas got rougher.  The seals (or sea dogs, as they called them in Europe) got sleepier.   I was instructed to keep the kayak steady so that Nikki could call to them and see if one would jump into the boat with us and go home.  As our kayak boat pounded into rocks, she would scream without looking away from the seals…”look at them bat their big brown eyes at me, they are grinning, they love me and want to come home to sleep on our doggie beds.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the “grin” they were showing was their fangs ready to attack the two stranded kayakers stupid enough to paddle all the way out here smelling like puke.

In life, the official Nikki pecking order is all animals first, with me in a close 6th place.  Upon seeing this seal scratching his back in the water, I was not surprised when Nikki nudged me out of the way with her yellow paddle to “make way for the seal that wants to jump in the boat with us.” 

Room With A View

We wanted to find the perfect little spot for our final two nights.  So off we went to explore.  Our patience paid off.  Barbara’s B&B had one of the best views yet.  Barbara however was out for a night on the town and left her 90+ year old mother, Phyllis to run the place.  Cash only, Phyllis told me.  “Alright Phyllis, I gotta go to the ATM.”  No problem, she responded, but I need a deposit…and held out her hand.  All I had was American and gave her a couple twenties.  She did the exchange rate in her head, told me that I had just put down exactly 32% of the room rate and she would need the other 68% before the sun set.  Reminding me of an old western and with the deadline looming…I responded “OK, Phyllis, I am on it!” and raced to the car.  She smiled in satisfaction, for when her daughter returned she would have achieved 100% occupancy for the night. 

Off to the ATM and back before my sun setting deadline.  I slowly counted out the money and to test Phyllis I said, “how much more do I owe ya?”  She had the math down exact as she finalized the counting, and with a frustrated sigh, informed me, “you still owe me $70 dollars.”  OK, Phyllis.  So, I intentionally over paid her by $5.  She looked at me with two versions:

-one look was, don’t test me sonny boy, I got years on you!

-and the second look was, now I need to go get you $5 in change and you don’t even know it you stupid product of the American Math System. 

Nikki and I picked up some Speights in bottles and some crackers and cheese and walked about 10 feet down to the beach to watch the sunset.  Barbara and Phyllis sure had the life and we were happy to steal the views for a few days.

Road Rash

With Nikki behind the wheel, we were desperately trying to exit a particularly confusing parking lot.  Around and around we drove in the rain.  We needed some type of person smarter than our 30 day old vacation brains to help us leave this dastardly asphalt puzzle.  I saw a bicycle cop behind us and too excitedly yelled to Nikki “there is a bicycle cop!”  She of course slammed on the brakes in anticipation of a front end collision with a Huffy.  The bike cop however was behind us, and he slammed on his bike brakes, went front end over his handlebars and slammed both his hands into our trunk and disappeared under the back of our Red Rocket.

“Oh shit” was my response, and I got out of the vehicle ready for a ticket or at least a verbal lashing.  The cop was on the ground, behind the rear tires laughing.  I helped him up, dusted him off and apologized about a dozen times.  “No worries mate, bones are fine, why did she stop?”  “Well, we can’t find the exit and thought we would ask you…”  “Right over here mate” and he took us over a curb, around the pay lines and towards the road out of town.  Shows you what kind of people the New Zealanders can be, even when we run them over with a Ford.

The next adventure will be code named “Chopper Blubber.”  I will leave it up to you to try and decode our next assignment.  See you in a day or so…

Quote of the Day

“I am wearing a bikini top for the rest of the trip, because I only have one clean bra left and I will need that for the flight home”  Nikki Sharp


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