Trip Start Sep 12, 2005
Trip End Sep 11, 2006

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Monday, December 5, 2005

Sun (4th) I decided to go to Akaroa - a really pretty town south east of Christchurch which was originally a French colony and has retained that French feel. Liz, Emily and Jo head north that day on the Kiwi Experience which I've decided not to join - I'm going to try to make my way around on public buses. Arrive in Akaroa in the morning and the sun is shining and I feel great. The hostel I book into is beautiful - has a real cottage feel about it with it's own herb garden where you're able to pick your own to use for dinner and there are no locks on the doors - great atmosphere. Walking along the beautiful waterfront, I pass a place renting kayaks out and I enquire as to how much it'd be. Unfortunately you are not allowed out on your own, but as luck would have it another guy was also there wanting to go out, and so we both hired a kayak for a few hours. Larry is a Californian volleyball coach - need I say more?! We went out around midday and I had a blast. When we got near the mouth of the river estuary we crossed over to the other side to check out some caves. About half way across we spot some dolphins. I couldn't believe my luck. After a while they came right up to our kayaks and I had a couple of them swim right underneath and around mine. I was so chuffed. The caves turned out to be pretty small, but it was around this time that I realised I really needed the loo. Hmm. Paddled off to a little pebbly shore and hauled my kayak up before scooting round some rocks. That's when I noticed the weather really changing for the worse. Getting back into the kayak, I had huge waves breaking on the shore and trying to save my bag (with passport, money, tickets, camera in) from getting wet, I managed to get washed away by a huge wave which carried me off my feet and dumped me ass over tit in the freezing water. I stopped fannying around after that, I can tell you, and got back in pretty smartish! Well, the weather on the way back was terrible - the wind was completely against us and it was really choppy - we felt we were going nowhere. You literally couldn't stop paddling for a second or you'd be pushed backwards - the sailing boats came out to play. After 3 hours of doggedly paddling back to town, some sailing guys were amazed to see us - they said it was a 15 knot head wind we were struggling against. The guys at the kayak shop were really worried about us - we were an hour and a half late and they had shut half an hour ago. I ached so badly the next day! Had a quiet one that night as I knew I had an early one the next morning.

Mon (5th) I was meeting at 6am to go swimming with dolphins. As hard as it was to prise myself out of bed that morning, it was worth it tenfold. I had such a fantastic time. The four of us on the trip were in the water for an hour with 20 hector dolphins who were just so playful. These little guys are the smallest in the world and only found in New Zealand, another endangered species. As such, you weren't allowed to touch them as they had really sensitive skin which can flake off, but they didn't make it easy for you - they swam so close to you and were attracted by noise, so we were encouraged to slap the water and hum at them. I found 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' to be particularly effective. At one point I had one dolphin circle me within half a metre of me about 10 times and I just kept turning round keeping up with it, both of us staring into each others eye. It was just bizzare. Just wish we had longer, but they had to get the boat back for the next trip out - the dolphins followed us back surfing along the bow water and one followed us all the way back to the harbour. I was on such a high. That afternoon I just went on a walk around the village to some lookout points - it really is a most beautiful place. Later I caught a bus back to Christchurch and then got a connecting us to Kaikoura...
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