Whale Watching in Kaikoura
Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
74Trip End Jun 27, 2008
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Amazing, astounding, gobsmacking, splasholicious, tantalising, tremendous, outstanding, breathtaking, spinechilling, stupendous...
We checked in and waited, soon we were aboard a shuttle that would take us to the boat, which would then take us to the whales. Straight to the back for Nic as they had warned of seasickness (even though the sea was unusually calm) and sure enough Nic was feeling a little queasy (wuss). However, focusing on looking out for the whales helped to keep her stomach in one place.
Two minutes later and our high speed catamaran had taken us ten nautical miles out to sea. Why so close to the shore? The special thing about NZ is that just a few miles off shore the plates that form the sea bed plummet to thousands of metres deep - this allows the whales to be seen so close to land. 'There she blows' well there he blew as technically females don't travel the seas alone, it is only the male that does this. They only meet up with the women when they want something...(typical). We race at top speed to catch up to him, stumble out on to the top deck, camera in hand...and the tail is just disappearing out of sight, and before we could engage the zoom he was gone.
When they dive they are usually gone for forty five minutes and dive an impressive one thousand metres down before they surface again. As they go, the sheer force of their tail fin in the water causes what is called their footprint. This is a flat smooth footprint shape on the surface of the water. The longest ever recorded dive was two hours eighteen minutes... that's some lung capacity. This tour is all about conservation and in order to locate the whales they listen with a special microphone placed in the water to hear the whales call. Many tours will use sonar or even tracking devices, but these are very dangerous to the creatures and can seriously harm, sometimes kill!
The captain has picked up another signal and we head off again. This time we get up close and personal with a fifteen metre sperm whale. He shows us an impressive water display before taking a huge gulp of air and diving down in front of us, and the last thing we see is the full splendour of his tail fin.
After a few sightings of sperm whales (four in total) we get a tip off that there are none other than Orca in the area; back to our seats and we head off in hot pursuit again. The boat slows, we rush to the sides, hanging over the edge of the boat, cameras poised....before our very eyes not one, not two, but three Orca majestically gliding through the water. You may know these better as Killer whales, originally called whale killers, for that very reason, and they are actually from the dolphin family. As dolphins do, the Orca became curious, coming closer to the boat, then one started to swim directly towards us. Holding our breath the atmosphere was still, the dorsal fin disappeared out of sight and the eery shadow of the Orca's body slid silently under our boat appearing moments later on the other side....AMAZING! After this amazing encounter the guide spots out an albatross, yeah he was good but not huge killer whale good.
The next day we decide to stretch our legs and follow the peninsula walk. Yet again more spectacular views caught our eyes. Halfway along we stumble on a seal colony. Over a metre in length and very fat these cuddly looking creatures lay basking in the sun after a hard three weeks fishing just trying to get some shut-eye. This was not to be the case as many other people were admiring them at close range.... something that all the signs tell you not to do as they will bite! Bloody tourists. After watching many people thinking that they knew better and hoping to see someone get bitten, we disappointedly head off to make our appointment with a sheep. We had heard that for ten dollars you can watch a sheep shearing show, and see a sheep being shawn and sure enough (try saying that after a drink) we did. As it is currently off season here there were only the two of us so we were able to reap the benefits of a private show for the same price.