Whales and Dolphins!

Sunday morning we left Christchurch at the very early time of 7:15am and headed to Kaikoura. There’s not much in Kaikoura, the main reason for going there being whale watching, and unfortunately the whale watching cruise we had booked for that afternoon was cancelled due to rough seas! 🙁 Fortunately we were able to move our onward travel plans the next day to an afternoon bus and reschedule the cruise for the next morning, but the only time they could fit us in was also 7:15am!!!

Having exhausted most of Kaikoura’s entertainment possibilities whilst waiting to go on our cancelled trip, and exhausted ourselves walking across town and to/from our hostel (inconveniently located 2km’s from the town centre) I don’t have particularly fond memories of Kaikoura. There is a seal colony and some nice views out on the peninsular, but we’ve seen quite a few seals and nice views now. The tiny local cinema prevented us from going entirely insane in the form of ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ in the evening but it’s not a great film…

Fortunately whale watching did go ahead the next morning and it was very cool! We saw two humpback whales in the distance, and four sperm whales up fairly close — such huge creatures! There was also a Royal Albatross majestically gliding across the waves around our boat for much of the journey — we saw these before at the colony near Dunedin, but out here in the middle of the ocean it was a really impressive sight.

After Kaikoura we went to Nelson, arriving fairly late in the evening. Another very early start the next morning took us to Abel Tasman National Park where we went sailing. This was lots of fun as it was a fairly small boat and we were able to help out with putting up sails, and doing some steering, but just to be out on the water, speeding along without the noise of an engine was a fantastically relaxing and enjoyable experience. The national park also has some quite beautiful coastal scenery — lovely deserted beaches and rocky outcrops — quite a change from the mountains and similar we’ve seen up until now, but the highlight of the day was the 20 minutes under sail with 6 or 7 dolphins playing around our bow! From where I was lieing on the desk watching them I could have practically touched them they were so close, and they seemed to be having such fun playing around in the water, I can see why people find the experience of swimming with them so amazing.