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Friday, March 14, 2014

PART 2 - Pub-crawling around the world: Groper's Garage, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is an absolutely beautiful peninsula on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Many visit for the wildlife - on the drive in you will see fur seals basking on the rocks, albatross flying through the air and if you go on a boat trip, you'll spot dusky dolphins and hopefully a giant sperm whale (or three, as I was lucky enough to!). It's also a great place for walking and hiking, with the Kaikoura mountains providing a stunning backdrop and aptly demonstrating the phrase "Where the mountains meet the sea." that you will notice written everywhere in this little town.
The beach in Kaikoura    

Groper's Garage was recommended to me by the owner of the FishTank Lodge, where I stayed in Kaikoura. Craig is an awesome guy, full of tips for the surrounding area and with a great sense of humour. I popped into the bar at dusk and was delighted to find a huge open fire and really comfy sofas. I loved the layout of the place and although it's quite large and bright, it felt cosy and homely on this rainy evening.

It's located on the main street, a stone's throw from the beach and surrounded by little craft and beachwear stores. There is outdoor seating with heaters too as Kaikoura can get pretty chilly, exposed as it is to the sea and with the backdrop of those snow-capped peaks.

I ordered a spaghetti carbonara from the very attractive barman (always a bonus in a venue!) and a local Sauvignon Blanc, as the Marlborough wine region is nearby and our bus journey took us through them on the way from Picton to Kaikoura. I'm glad to say that the wine was really nice and encouraged me to have a second glass. The carbonara was absolutely steaming when it arrived - a huge portion in an earthenware bowl. I managed to finish only about half of it but it was pretty tasty. Prices were a little on the high side (ranging from NZ$17 upwards for mains although light bites are cheaper) but that's how it is in Kaikoura, so if you're really low on pennies then buy before you get there and cook.

I didn't speak to any other customers there but I was reading so I was happy enough to stay on my own. I noticed one or two other solo travellers and there were groups playing pool. A few locals who worked nearby (I was eavesdropping) were popping in to arrange plans with the staff and some stayed for a drink.

I could have stayed for the night, hoping someone would break out a guitar and give me an excuse, but I had to be up extra early for whale-watching so I called it a night after two drinks but I'd love to return.

Ambience: 8/10 - obviously it would have been better for me if I was with people
Cost: $$$$$ (On the pricey side but the portions are built for sharing) Fries are NZ$8, my dish was $17, the wine was $9
Food: Really tasty, huge portions (too big for me - more suited to a huge labourer)
Location: Opposite the ocean, v.good, easy to find.
Toilets: All good.
Overall: Drop in, if only to see the handsome barman ;)

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