Posted by ~~~Ann~~~ (Nelson, New Zealand) on 25 May 2013 in People & Portrait.
Great views assured!
Kaikoura Peninsula is made of limestone and siltstone laid down beneath the sea about 60 million years ago; it has been exposed to the elements for a mere 180,000 years. Once an island, it is now linked to the mainland by debris eroded from the Kaikoura mountains, These mountains are rising faster than any other mountains in New Zealand (10 mm per year) but erosion keeps their height fairly constant.
Periods of rapid uplift have formed the steep-sided promontories, ideal for pa sites, and have twisted the neatly layered limestone into unusual shapes. The relatively young rocks have been worn into many interesting forms by the pounding sea. In less active periods, the sea has cut large tidal platforms in the softer sandstone.
Offshore is a very deep underwater canyon system called the Hikurangi Trench. It comes unusually close to shore at Kaikoura, where it is known as the Kaikoura Canyon. The canyon floor collects sediments that will form tomorrow’s rocks and may appear in millions of years’ time as new mountains.
In the 1850's a grave containing the skeleton of a man holding a Moa egg and an adze was found. The egg is the largest whole Moa egg ever discovered. With the decline of the Moas the need for alternative food supplies became more important and Maori settlements became more permanent. The peninsula hilltops provided ideal sites for kumara (sweetpotato) beds and for building lookouts and fortifications in case of attack. At least fifteen pa sites were established on the peninsula with most only occupied for short periods during which some fierce battles took place. In 1843 Robert Fyfe, reputed to be Kaikoura's earliest European settler, established "Waiopuka", the first shore whaling station near where his house, built in 1860, still stands on it's whale bone piles and can be visited on the way to Point Kean. Other whaling stations soon followed at South Bay with the remains of one still visible near the slipway.
Kaikoura Peninsula has an abundance of wildlife. The New Zealand Fur seal is abundant around Kaikoura most of the year with a small breeding colony using peninsula haul out sites. The seal population here is largely transient with most of the seals being males.Leopard and elephant seals also occasionally visit the area and the food-rich waters attract the whales, large pods of dolphins and a few Orcas to the area.
During spring and summer large breeding colonies of gulls and some terns cover a lot of the rock outcrops. Other birds found in the area include dotterels, herons, gannets, oyster catchers, penguins, petrels, shearwaters, and shags. Most of these can be seen year round but some are migratory and travel as far away northern Asia. The Hutton's shearwater, although seen in large numbers off the reefs, comes ashore only to nest high up in the mountains behind Kaikoura.
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