Jack Tame is a television and radio journalist and presenter.

Jack Tame: Surf's up after the quake

A surfer braves the Meatworks break north of Kaikoura. Photo / Alan Gibson
A surfer braves the Meatworks break north of Kaikoura. Photo / Alan Gibson

The drive into Kaikoura was still a little bit iffy.

After custard squares in Culverdon, we navigated the temporary bridge and the myriad hazards that dot the inland road, in a two-hour reminder of the limitations of an otherwise practical Japanese import.

Nissan March hatchbacks mightn't cost much to fuel up, but losing one down a pothole the size of a chest freezer would not have been an ideal beginning to 2017.

We settled on visiting the seals at the end of the Kaikoura Peninsula, since the colonies along the coastline aren't as accessible as they were before the quake.

We scrambled down a cliff, took warnings from nesting gulls and even came across a couple of late season seal pups lolling in the shallows. Nothing created by the human hand could ever match the cuteness of those pups.

From my brief time in town, my impression of Kaikoura was of a township battling but enduring.

Shops and cafes were open. A few tourists were about. Surveyors were preparing to measure up South Bay and you could make it up the road to check out the old Meatworks surf break.

Various hardy souls skipped with their boards across the railway tracks separating the road and the water.

Each surfer slowed to navigate the rocks that presumably inspired Meatworks' name, before ducking into the rhythm of perfect, steady sets.

It appears Kaikoura's surfing community might actually end up benefiting from the region's post-earthquake coastline.

The same force that lifted the seabed all along the Kaikoura coast, leaving kelp and seaweed still stranded and bleaching in the sun, has made for fantastic surf conditions.

A local surf school is considering extending the local kids' surf programme to make the most of the new normal and although visiting surfers mightn't be known for outrageous spending, more visitors can surely only be a good thing.

We left town south on State Highway 1, heading south on a smoother ride, comforted that amid all the disruption and despair, maybe Mother Nature is literally giving Kaikoura a break.

- Herald on Sunday

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Jack Tame is a television and radio journalist and presenter.

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