Nature fest of Attenborough-esque proportions

Trip Start Nov 14, 2010
Trip End Nov 13, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, June 30, 2011

ROB’S BIRTHDAY!!!!!! Rob and I woke up early to go and book tickets for the whale watching. We booked it for 12.45 but the lady said that it was unlikely that it would go because the weather off the coast was too bad - too windy and the swell waved were too big. But we hoped that it might change.
When we got back Dad and Dawn were getting breakfast ready and over brekkie we gave Rob his presents and cards which he wasn’t expecting to get at all. Unfortunately the whale watching was cancelled. We were gutted but booked in to go the following morning in the hope that the weather would improve. Instead we set out to find seals that we had been told we could see easily on the shore. Dad had also been told about a palce where we could see baby seals. On the beach, adult seals slept on the rocks and in pools formed by the rocks adolescent seals were playing in the water.
A little further up the road we stopped to go and look at the Ohau Stream where the baby seals were. As soon as we walked along the path we saw baby seals playing in the water. About 5 in total were swimming about who then got out of the water to take a look at us. They are very inquisitive! We were delighted, thinking that this was what we had come to look at, when a guy came down form the path and told us to keep going and that we wouldn’t believe our eyes. So we continued up the path and followed the stream up towards the waterfall. Along the way you could see seal pups swimming and climbing up the rocks in the same direction as us. When we finally arrived at the waterfall we couldn’t believe our eyes. Hundreds of baby seals playing in the pool beneath the waterfall. Swimming, jumping, playing and relaxing on the rocks. It really was the most unbelievable sight we have ever seen. It was literally like being in an Attenborough documentary. During the winter, every year, hundreds of seal pups travel up stream to the waterfall to interact socially with each other while their mothers are out feeding. Basically a seal pup nursery!
Two ladies who were volunteers were at the waterfall and gave us information about the land. The land is actually Maori land but they decided that this experience was too special and that people should be able to see it, so they work with the Department of conservation to make it accessible and also to ensure the animals safety. Again the pups were curious but you have to be careful as they have very sharp teeth. .
This more than made up for not being able to go whale watching. A birthday to remember for Rob
That evening we went into town for a birthday meal and the food was amazing. Rob and I had a huge bowl each of Marlborough mussels and Dad and Dawn had steaks. The biggest mussels I have ever seen!  We had also decided on this particular pub because it was Essex Neil’s pub quiz night and we came to conquer!
At one point we were joint third and Dad and Rob had to down a couple of small pints to put us ahead. We ended up coming joint first! However they decided that in order to decide who would win the first prize of the $50 bar tab  there was to be another downing a pint competition. Rob took the challenge but unfortunately was against well practiced gap year backpackers who basically do that every night. We didn’t really need a $50 bar tab anyway! We got a $25 bar tab, had another round of drinks and called it a night!

Thankfully the weather improved and the whale watching was on! The swell was still quite high so Dawn and I took some sea sickness tablets. The staff on the boat were great. Whilst the boat was moving we all had to remain seated and then when we got out to sea and the spot where they thought the whale would be we were able to get up and go outside and also help look for whales. The staff had everything coordinated with lookouts and the use of state of the art technology to find the sperm whales that also doesn’t interfere with the whales own sonar systems. Sperm whales only surface for about 5-10 mins before diving back down to feed for 40-50 mins. Shortly into the trip we saw the first sperm whale. At first when you see it, you only see the very top of it and bursts of air coming from the blow hole. Then as it is about to dive back down, it arches its body and its tail appears and then slowly goes down. How amazing to actually see a Sperm whale in the ocean. The guide made sure everyone got their photos by saying ‘take your photos, now, now, now, now…’ until the tail slowly disappeared. After the first spotting we whizzed off to another sperm whale which was just heading back under. We didn’t even go back to seats so just had to hold on tight.
While they were waiting for another one to surface we headed off to see a pod of dusky dolphins. It was the most incredible sight. Hundreds of dolphins were all swimming around the area. It was hilarious because it was like they were showing off to us. They were jumping and performing somersaults, flipping around and swimming alongside the boat. We stayed there for a while until the boat picked up another sonar reading and we headed off to see another sperm whale. Once it dove under we got to head back to the dolphins again and then w got to see another whale! We also saw several Albatross while we were there too which are amazing birds and incredible to look at as they run across the water to take flight. The time flew by and it was time to head back. It was the most fantastic day. In fact two spectacular days of nature fest activities!
Once we had had a spot of lunch we headed onto Blenheim so that we wouldn’t have too far to drive for the ferry the following day. Blenheim is a strange place, in fact a lot like other New Zealand towns. A little like they are stuck in a time warp. The town was empty as we walked in to the supermarket. I went to buy the shopping but wasn’t allowed as I didn’t have ID with me so I had to get Dad to buy it! I was quite chuffed really getting asked for Id at 29 years old! Happy days. The campsite gave us vouchers for dinner at a strange little bar/restaurant/bookies across the road and it turned out to be absolutely delicious.
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Dad on

Wow looks like you had a good time in New Zealand. Wish I'd been there.

claireandrob on

We had great company! :)

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