The tomfoolery of the dolphins

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
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Trip End Sep 26, 2010


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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, January 17, 2010

So after saying goodbye to my wonderful temporary family and home in Christchurch, we left for Kaikoura in the early morning.

I've been doing my best all week to make sure I was first on the list for an activity I've been really looking forward to for a fewmonths which is an open ocean swim with wild dolphins! I managed to get my name down first and at that point all I had to do was pray the weather held up and they would send a boat out in the afternoon.

We drove all along the coast up to Kaikoura and it was stunning scenery and luckily the weather held and it even cleared up a bit from the wind and drizzles in the morning and we got the good news on the way that the dolphins had been located and they were sending a boat out!

So for the rest of the ride up to Kaikoura I was very excited for what was in store. Kaikoura is a great little town right along the water with stunning turquoise water, and it is famous for its wildlife. There are all sorts of albatross, whales, dolphins, seals and marine life right off the coast.

Anyways, after getting dropped at the hostel we had a really quick turnaround and then hopped back onto the bus to make it to the dolphin encounter on time. Made it with a few minutes to spare, got suited up in wetsuits, had an information briefing about open water swimming and snorkeling and how to interact with dolphins and off we went. The boat ride out was extremely choppy and the waves were still very large so more than a few people ended up getting sick and not even making it into the water, but I had taken seasick pills before and I'm not usually one for seasickness anyways so I managed.

Driving out in the boat we had a number of royal albatross flying right behind and beside our boat so we basically had a albatross encounter for free by going out to see the dolphins which was a treat. After 30 minutes or so we found them, and I was truly amazed at how many there were. We got lucky on the day and had a bigger pod of them than usual, and the crew reckoned there were about 400 of them. They are Dusky dolphins, which is a smallish sized dolphin but they are extremely playful and acrobatic which we noticed right away. They frequently jump out of the water extremely high and do all sorts of flips and spins and somersaults. Bunch of show-offs really, but pretty unbelievable to watch.

So after getting the final touches of our gear on we got in the ocean.

I've never snorkeled before so it was kind of a shock the first time I wen't in and I had trouble breathing so I didn't really get underwater but it was a pretty surreal experience to be surrounded by dolphins within arms reach. After 5 minutes or so the boat and swimmers drift away from the dolphins so you get back on board with everyone else and go find them again, get back in the way of the direction they are choosing to travel.

Everytime this process repeated I became more and more comfortable in the water and was able to touch one of the dolphins going by, as they swim right underneath you and beside you. Some of them are very playful and extremely curious so they will look you in the eye and then swim around you and the goal is to engage them and stay looking at them and do a 360 with them as they swim around. I was able to do that with a couple of them and it was truly a magical experience interacting with these wild animals.

After getting out of the water for about the 6th time we had about 30 minutes of chasing them on the boat and taking as many pictures and movies as we wanted, which I got heaps of. They are truly a bunch of rascals and it is evident by how they played together, doing flips and jumps in unison quite frequently.


An amazing experience for sure.


After that the rest of the night was spent winding down with a nice sauna and hot tub at the hostel then cards and drinks with fellow travelers before sleeptime.

Out for now!

-js
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