Our stay in Kaikoura turned out to be great in ways we hadn't expected.
Our plan had been to stay at the local marae (Maori meeting house) but it had become unavailable because of a death in the local community. Instead, we stayed at a lodge run by a Maori family (3 sisters!) about a half-hour's drive away from the town of Kaikoura itself. It proved to be a terrific place, as we had a great time with our hosts, sharing our culture with them, and learning more about Maori culture and values. (They also fed us mountains of great home cooking!)
We began our first, full day in the area with a great guided tour of the area from the Maori point of view. Our guides were Maurice Mamawatu and his assistant Tanya. They drove us around to various sites in the area, including a former pa (a fortified settlement)... a forest preserve where they taught us about the spiritual and medicinal qualities of various trees and plants... and finally a visit to Maurice's home where we were each welcomed by his wife, Heather, with a hongiWhile there, we had tea, practiced the Maori song that Maurice had been teaching us, and tried our hand at weaving with flax leaves. Our planned whale watching tour was cancelled because of bad weather, so we spent our afternoon shopping up and down the single main street of Kaikoura.