Wine and Whales

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
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Trip End Oct 01, 2015


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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It was the day we were collecting our campervan and M & M were classically late getting ready so we didn't collect it till around lunchtime after an emotional goodbye to the little kittens. We were soon on the road though and heading north towards Kaikoura. To get to Kaikoura you have to drive through an area called Waipara – the first of the wine regions we would be visiting on our trip, after a quick pit stop at a brewery to sample some craft beers and a bakery for an on the road lunch (M & M’s fault for making us late) we arrived at our first winery – Pegasus bay, we tasted a few wines but weren’t completely blown away so purchased a couple of bottles then had a look around the rest of the building – the back doors opened out onto a wonderful garden – we couldn’t resist picking a spot ordering a glass of our favourite wines and soaking up the sunshine before hitting the road again. When we were out for dinner in Christchurch we ordered a bottle of wine from a vineyard called Black Estate and after checking the map we realised we would be driving right past it so couldn’t resist popping in for a quick tasting – the wines were fabulous and the tasting room was perched on top of a little hill overlooking the waipara valley and all its vineyards – there was also a lovely looking restaurant which we decided we had to try and come back to on our way home. We stocked up enough wine to keep us going for the trip and made our way up to kaikoura, found ourselves a campsite overlooking the beach and relaxed with dinner and drinks for the rest of the evening.

The following morning was a very early start as we were off whale watching, we climbed out of our tent and were welcomed with an amazing red sunrise across the ocean. There wasn’t a chance to enjoy it though as we hurried to get ready and get to the whale watching office – hoping it was running today after our last failed attempt to go 6 months ago. We needn’t of rushed quite so much though as when we got there we realised we were half an hour early so we headed back to the van for a hearty breakfast of bread and butter!

Soon enough we were jumping onto the bus to be taken to the wharf and we boarded our boat for the day. The boat was quite a fast one and we were all told to stay in our seats as we headed out to sea in search of the whales, when the crew knew we were in the general vicinity we were allowed up to the deck and were all scanning the water in anticipation hoping to be the first to spot them. While we were waiting we did see some albatross which are basically like glorified seagulls, it was cool but they were soon forgotten when we saw our first whale! We had been informed that a research boat had spotted a whale a little way away from where we were so we all took our seats and off we went reaching the area just in time to see the whale dive down flicking its tail up in the air as it went. Sperm whales normally dive under water for around 45 minutes at a time so it could have been a long wait for that one to come back up again, we were told to take our seats again and off we went back to our original point to continue tracking the first whale. The captain had lost the clicking sound that the whale makes (loud enough to shatter you entire insides if you were in the water with it) which meant it could be on its way to the surface – and in no time at all we spotted it. It was pretty awesome to see although it did just look like an upside down boat or a log floating in the sea, it wasn’t on the surface for long though and then it dove down again and we got to see what wed all been waiting for and try and get that picture that everyone wants – the tale. Not sure why this is so special I guess because it looks the most whale like on camera! We spent the next couple of hours feeling sick and speeding around looking for more whales – we saw 4 in total which was amazing as they saw they normally only see 1 or 2. By lunchtime we were thankfully back on dry land and decided to go and grab some breakfast and do a spot of shopping in town before heading up to Blenheim for the night.

The drive up to Blenheim was awesome – we were surrounded by rolling hills and then through vineyard after vineyard as we all eagerly chose which ones we liked the look of most for the following day. The campsite we stayed on was right on a deserted beach however it lived up to its name of cloudy bay and the weather was pretty terrible. We set up our tent and relaxed with some wine and snacks before heading to bed for another early night!
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