The drive from Arthur's Pass to Kaikoura was fairly low-key, as we only stopped a handful of times due to heavy fog. We needed to get to Kaikoura by one o'clock for our 4-wheeler with Glenstrae Farms just south of town.
When we arrived early, the brother who takes people out on the 4-wheelers, Ellister, had no idea we were coming. However that happened (maybe a slip of the online site that does the booking), Ellister sent us to check out the small beach up the road toward Kaikoura for a few minutes while he got things ready for our three person tour - Chris, me, and Ellister.
Rain was threatening to make an appearance, so we got started earlier than our one o'clock tour time, one of the perks of being the only people on a tour. After suiting us up in water and mud-proof pants and jackets, as well as good old fashioned rubber boots and helmets, we were ready for our crash course in 4-wheeling. Once Ellister was satisfied we could handle steep bends and wouldn't fly off the side of a cliff, it was time to see this family's amazing farmland that edges the east coast.
Ellister was hilarious, promptly making fun of me when I stopped to get a picture of some of his sheep. He also goaded Chris into laughing with him when he made a crack about female drivers, but both men straightened and clamped their mouths shut when I turned around to cast upon them my glorious glare. It was like we'd known each other for years. He led us along grassy paths, through many gates, and over the tops of the most beautiful emerald green hills, dotted with sheep, black angus cows, and goats. He was quick to warn us about dodging the often steaming piles of - use your imagination - as hitting such a mess would spray all kinds of funk all over us. Beware also, he told us, of the neon green puddles - that ain't Gatorade.
After a break and snack of tea, coffee, and biscuits, we began heading back - the rain would be coming soon.
I think this may be my new favorite thing so far on this trip.
After our exhilarating ride around Family Glenstrae's farmland, we were eager to meet the woman who would be giving us room and board for the night in town. Her name is Margaret, and I read nothing but rave reviews of her bed & breakfast, the Bayview Homestay. Upon our arrival, Margaret showed us to our part of the house, complete with full kitchen and fireplace, which we needed. She served us tea and a light snack of homemade bread, and went about her day, kindly giving us information about her hometown.
As I lay in bed that night, I experienced a strange mix of emotions. First and foremost was sadness, guilt, and grief, but close behind was gratitude. I felt grateful that Heidi had lived as long as she did, for the friend we had in Kelly, who we totally trusted to care for Heidi in what turned out to be her final days, and for the support and love I felt coming at me from all angles. When I finally fell asleep that night, it was out of sheer exhaustion, but before I drifted off, I wondered if pretty Kaikoura would always be a sad place to remember.