A whale of a time

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kaikoura is the centre for all things sea life in New Zealand. We decided we should keep active and booked to do sea kayaking. It also came highly recommended form Liz's friend Laura who had done it a couple of days earlier. We met up with Matt who runs the company and once again we were the only people on our tour. May seems to be a great month to come to get private tours at no extra cost! Compared to our last outing in sea kayaks (Halong Bay) this was a whole lot more professional. We even got life jackets this time! Matt kited us out with the full gear of sprays skirts, wet suit botties and a very fancy looking double man sea kayak that even had a foot steered rudder. After some quick demonstrations we were straight out on the water. Having a rudder makes them so much easier to use as you can just concentrate on forward paddling without having to worry about which direction your uneven stroke is pushing you. The main draw on the sea kayaking is the seals. There are loads of colonies of them around the coast and in the kayak you can get right up close to them. It was really cool to be feet away from about 5 or 6 fur seals just flipping about in the water cleaning themselves. We were also really lucky and got to sea one seal eating a fish. Like something right out of Planet Earth. We didn’t see any dolphins or penguins which sometimes happens on these tours but saw plenty of seabirds and had a really good morning.

The main tourist attraction in Kaikoura is whale watching so we signed up to go on a 3 hour cruise. They almost guarantee a sighting and will actually give you back 80% of your fare if you don’t see any. This tour was full and we headed out on their slick catamarans at high speed to where they had seen some sperm(he he) whales earlier in the day. The sea was pretty rough and the boat was fairly bouncing around leading to a few green faces and filled sick bags. Our stomachs were rock solid thankfully. These guys are really good at what they do. We came to a stop and the captain stuck the hydrophone over the side to listen for whale clicks. Within no time were on top of a breaching sperm whale and got to watch him breath for about 5 minutes before he dived again and gave us the all-important tail shot. He would be down for 40 minutes or so, so we headed off to find another and soon enough we had one. More photos of the hump on the water and a cool tail shot again. Then straight back to the first guy and we got him coming back up again. Brilliant. Like they have them trained! We then headed in to the coast, saw some more seals basking on the rocks and even saw a few jumping dolphins on the cruise back to port. Really worthwhile trip and plenty of info on sealife as we were cruising along. Highly recommended.

That night Liz took the wheel to get us up to Blenheim and as is becoming a bit of a tradition when she does the heavens opened. It rained torrentially all night and we weren’t really  looking forward to our planned day of wine touring the next day in the rain.
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