As I drove south along the scenic Kaikoura coast, several things caught my eye. The first was the Renwick pie store. Good start. The second was Tapue-O-Nueku. Just shy of three thousand metres of mountain burst out of the yellow, wavering tussock fields of the eastern coast. Boom.
We'll just the map scale was slightly deceiving...
Glancing at my South Island road map I convinced myself this was Mount Fyffe, within striking distance of Kaikoura township. Following my nose along a maze of country roads, I found myself at a scaled down version of the alpine giant. The true Fyffe still presented me with a daunting challenge however in the mid-afternoon blaze - 1400m of climb - and nowhere to escape the burning sun.
The view was ace - to the Inland Kaikoura Ranges, home of the monstrous Manukau and towering Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the highest mountain outside the Southern Alps, higher even than Ruapehu in the North.
Nearing the peak along a flat summit ridge made for a final dash to the trig. Epic!
Descending was more a necessary exercise than a challenge, taking me back down the same steep sixteen hundred.
And onwards to Christchurch, last stop before the Alps!