Kaikoura: A special place
Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
77Trip End May 21, 2011
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When we arrived in the small town we were stunned by the surrounding scenery. The faded concrete and purpose-built blocks from the 70's that characterise many British towns were absent here. Instead, a low-rise town with sea murals sat comfortably beside impressive snowy peaks that met a calm and clear sea. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t quite comprehend this unique scenery
It was the slightly odd, quirky experience we were expecting. After feeding a lamb milk from a baby’s bottle, we watched a farmer shear a sheep pretty slowly. It was rather awkward watching the sheep struggle for what felt like an extended period of time and it was a bit uncomfortable pretending to laugh when the bald farmer put the sheep’s wool on his head. After learning about the different breeds of sheep, we gratefully took our wool sample and left and couldn’t help but feel that the £5 each might have been better spent at the seafood BBQ down the road..... To be fair though, the farmer did kindly let us stay in our campervan in his field at night so perhaps it was money well spent.
The following morning brought with it lots of baas from the sheep as well as much excitement and anticipation. We had arranged to swim with wild dolphins which was something that we both have really wanted to do for a while- especially me. So after a refreshing wash in the public toilets by the beach, we went to the dolphin encounter office and waited to be processed with the other 20 people
After a short drive out into the sea, we started to see dolphins jumping and saw a wandering albatross flying nearby. Not long after we were told to put our snorkel gear on and sit at the back of the boat. In our excitement, looking like clownish seals didn’t phase us as we waited to get in the sea. When the horn sounded we obediently got in and swam to the spot everyone on board pointed to. As the briefing had instructed us, we sang loudly and ridiculously to try and entertain the dolphins. Paul and I tried to coordinate our song but we soon gave up and Paul instead resorted to a high-pitched bass-line to accompany my random classical humming. I am not sure why I thought that the dolphins would be attracted to classical tunes, possibly due to the intelligence I hear so much about, but it seemed to work as several dolphins swam round us, curious about our odd arrangement. It might be a bit clichéd to say it but it really was a great experience. Having eye contact with dusky dolphins, playfully swimming in circles alongside them, and watching Paul dive down amongst them was something special
After this experience, we faced the challenge of getting out of a wet suit on a swaying boat surrounded by unlucky sea-sick passengers with happiness. The hot chocolate and ginger biscuits only added to our glee as we stumbled to the front of the boat to watch the dolphins swimming and jumping. We felt that the trip was unforgettable and made as good as it could possibly be by the professionalism and friendliness of the staff at Dolphin Encounter. Visiting Kaikoura turned out to be a real highlight.