240 Days on the Road
Trekking what now?! Yes, did you know that Kaikoura, the town famous for its proximity to fascinating marine wildlife like whales, dolphins and seals, is also one of very few places you can go llama trekking in New Zealand? We’ll be honest, we were pretty surprised too.
On the day Robin organised to do this tour with Kaikoura Llama Trekking, he had Laura trying to guess the activity all day! Weirdly, enough, llama trekking did not spring to her mind.
“A llama is going to carry our stuff around Kaikoura,” Robin, who really had little idea about the tour, described it. After weeks of speculation, the time has finally come!
Meeting our llamas!
Waiting beside the Kaikoura information centre, we see a 4×4 pulling a horse trailer painted with happy people leading llamas. That must be it.
We introduce ourselves to Kevin, our guide, an Australian couple joining us on the llama trek, and four delightful llamas getting prepared by the other half of the llama operation, Lynn. Before we pack the llama bags, Lynn needs help brushing the llamas, so we choose a llama each and get brushing. Robin chooses Max, a young llama eager the be a significant member of his pack, while Laura chooses Legend, a llama all the other llamas look up to. We bond with our llamas over brushing the dirt off their backs, then pack our camera equipment into their specially-designed llama backpacks. Finally, you will see some photos of us without tripods and backpacks everywhere!
Powering through the funny five minutes
Packs on the llamas, we begin to lead them out of the town. It’s amazing what leading a llama does for your street cred. People start taking photos of our llamas, it brings a smile to every passer by… Basically, llamas are the ultimate accessory. During this time, the llamas are getting used to their surroundings and their new leaders, which Kevin takes the time to explain during our frequent stops, whether they’re scheduled or unscheduled. He explains, while poop-a-scooping some llama droppings, how llamas use 80% of their brain worrying and looking out for potential threats. He calls this first part of the trip the “funny five minutes” where the llamas are just getting used to everything.
Legend, Laura’s llama, wants to make everyone aware that he is the king llama by walking at the front of the herd. Then Legend sets the nice and easy pace, slightly slower than the average walking pace of a human, through a garden walkway arched with old whale bones. The walk then leads onto the first of three beautiful beaches we’ll be trekking on today.
Bet you never thought you would see this on New Zealand’s roads!
As occurrences arise between the llamas, Kevin makes sure to explain to us what is going on. The most frequent issue is one llama sniffing another llama’s bum, only to be met by an angry spitting llama. Like most of us, the llamas don’t like their bum being sniffed…
Epic views from sea to mountains
Our next scheduled stop is at a long patch of grass lined with trees on one side a long beach on the other. It’s great for the llamas who love eating grass – plus, it’s a lot more safer than some of the toxic vegetation planted around town. And it’s great for us who now have an awesome view of the vibrant blue ocean stretching out across to the Kaikoura mountain range. There are plenty of photo opportunities like this: an awesome backdrop to your llama selfie!
A walk through history
From beautiful scenery to a walk through history, the llama trek takes us to the old Kaikoura tour established here for its old whaling industry – a far cry from the whale-loving Kaikoura we know and love today. There’s nowhere better to continue the stories of Kaikoura’s whaling days than during a picnic outside Fyffe House, Kaikoura’s oldest remaining building.
Picnic at Fyffe House
In the large open grassy area (the llamas love it!), Kevin ties the llamas up along a picnic bench then we all sit down for some muffins and a coffee/tea/hot chocolate/water. Unfortunately, we are not able to go inside Fyffe House today due to earthquake damage (something that is usually included on the tour), but Kevin is sure to tell us the history of the area from the early Maori grave site found here complete with an intact moa egg(!) to the story of the early pioneers who established a whaling station here in the 1840s.
Llama trekking to the Kaikoura Peninsula seal colony
After cake and drinks, it’s time for the final leg of our journey over a soft sandy beach of the Kaikoura Peninsula. It seems we can take these llamas just about anywhere when we go from soft sand to roadside to boardwalk. However, Legend starts to put his head down and drag Laura away from the boardwalk. He is not happy about something. Then, we spot it. Up ahead right in the middle of the boardwalk is a sleeping seal! Llamas might not be a fan of seals, but we certainly are! Kevin takes the llamas and gets them ready to be picked up by Lynn and the horse trailer, while we get a closer look (but not too close!) at the seal colony. The seals here at the Kaikoura Peninsula are famous for occupying car parking spaces, blending into the rocks, and, as we saw, taking over the boardwalks.
Rounding up our first ever llama trek!
Our final moment with the llamas comes when we lead the llamas back into their trailer. Our journey to the Kaikoura Peninsula has certainly been a unique one! We’ve had beautiful views, time on the beach, learned about the history of Kaikoura, our very own llama expert and guide, and our own hilarious and cute llamas!
Kevin and Lynn drive us back to the starting point where we can hop in the car back to our accommodation at the Dusky Lodge.
Join us tomorrow where we get back out on the water to spot some sperm whales! See you then!
Just finished up the picnic. Next stop, the seal colony! Theta 360 Loading...
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See you tomorrow!