T’was a wee bit of a rude awakening when my alarm went off the morning after my evening of wine and crayfish. I pulled myself out of bed and together and headed off to find coffee and Whale Watch Kaikoura. While I was super excited at the prospect of seeing whales, the flashing sign at the check in desk for my tour reading ‘seasickness warning’ didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. The sun was out though so that was a good first step and the lady at the desk said the boats before us had spotted a whale so our captain would take us directly to the site. Things were looking up.
Despite a 7:45am check-in we didn’t actually leave the building to head to the docks until quarter past eight after a quick video on local wildlife and safety briefing. Ushered onto a bus we were transferred down to the docks where we were introduced to the crew. Our MC for the trip had a great sense of humour and chatted away about the whale population, explained how to deal with seasickness and the do’s and don’ts for the trip. Unfortunately, his tips on how to avoid seasickness didn’t help me as the boat felt like we were on a roller coaster. Murphy’s Law, I had also sat next to a rather handsome gentleman. Thankfully the captain spotted a whale and we were allowed to go out on the deck. Fresh sea air and of course a whale, both medicine. It was a giant Sperm Whale just chilling on the top of the ocean, blowing out water every now and then and according to our MC probably digesting or preparing for a dive. True to his word about 10min later the Sperm Whale dove beneath the waves tipping his tale out for a wave before diving to the depths below and allowing us to capture that classic whale tale pose.
Reluctantly, I headed back indoors with everyone bracing for the return journey when we were joined by a pod of 200/300 Dusky Dolphins, aptly nIcknamed the acrobats of the ocean! Not an exaggeration. It was incredible! My seasickness quickly evaporating as I watched in awe at their skills, grace and beauty as they raced beside the boat, performing back flips, twirls, dives and flops in front of us. Magic!
Fifteen minutes later we bid our fellow travellers adieu and turned our attention to the thousands of New Zealand fur seals that live on the Kaikoura peninsula. In some cases they watched us curiously from their perch, others couldn’t have cared less as they sunbathed or waddled along the rocks. After seeing them this close up I have decided that baby fur seals really just look like baby bears with flippers and should actually be called Sea Bears.
All in all, the Dolphins made the trip. It was great to see a whale but when I put the encounter against my first whale watching experience when I was a child off the coast of Five Islands where we saw a pod of humpback whales it is hard to compare.
We arrived back on land and I lazily wandered through the town dipping into all the cute knick-knack shops wishing I could buy everything. Eventually, I found myself on Kaikoura’s blue grey pebbly beach and plonked myself down, feeling slightly like a seal revelling in the sun, soaking up the view and thoroughly enjoying my carrot, apple and walnut muffin with cream cheese icing twirled on top from the Pot Belly Bakery.
A Whale, Dolphins, Sea Bears, window perusing and a delicious cupcake on a beautiful beach. Not a bad way to get over a hangover and the evening only promised to help improve it more with a sunset with a view and some of New Zealand’s best fish and chips.