Kaikoura

Kaikoura Travel Blog

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Seal

This morning was very sad as I had to say goodbye to the final 3 of the group I have been traveling since I picked up the bus in Auckland. Lukas was flying to Auckland and then to Chile, Barry was flying home to Melbourne, and Paul was staying a night and then flying home to UK. Since the bus trip is only 3 more days to return, I assumed the people on the bus would be as reluctant as I to make short-lived friends but our small bus group got on immediatley and I didn't feel so bad.

We were heading up the coast to Kaikoura, and stopped along the way to see some seal colonies. We were snapping photos of one seal basking on top of a rock only to all be surprised when a closer camouflaged seal fidgeted a little and re-adjusted herself among the seaweed!

The weather when we reached Kaikoura was pretty murky so I didn't fancy swimming with seals in the southern water, or fishing.

Concealed seal
I really fancied curling up in our Fawlty Towers style hostel with the heater on and watching movies, as many people did, but we decided to go whale watching, which Kaikoura is famous for.

I had my reservations about whale watching, after my experiences chasing whales in Rainbow beach. The tiny glimpse of a blow hole and the body arc seemed little renumeration for the $130 I would hand over but go I would anyway. As it was, it was money well spent. The boat itself was heaps of fun, the water was choppy but not so choppy as to set off my new-found propensity for travel sickness, and the 'take-off' off the waves was exhilarating, if induced a loss of stomach! We giggled and gasped our way 6 miles off the coastline, where we sunk an echolocation device to find the whales.

Kaikoura is so good for whale watching because just a few miles off the coastline the depth of the seafloor drops dramatically to create a sheltered underwater canyon.

Looking for whales with echo-location
The whales here would be sperm whales, though at times of the year they see many different types, and are all young males. Juvenile sperm whales stay with their mothers and the rest of the groups until they are 12n or 13yrs old when they reach sexual development, at which point the males head to the colder waters. They will not mate until they reach a sexual maturity at around 30-35 years old when they will return to find females in the warmer waters.

The boats return to the place the whales were last seen and since all the regular males are tracked they know how long they have been down in the depths for and so can reasonably guess when the whales will return to the surface to breathe. They return at intervals of around 40 mins - 1 hour. Soon one of the boats had a sighting of a blow hole, and 3 passenger boats, the helicopters, and plane providing scenic flights, all rushed to the sight to allow us to ooh and ahh at the floating whale for about 5 minutes until finally the dorsal area was displayed indicating the whale was diving down again, and preparing us all for the all-important 'tail shot'.

Whale!
In the meantime we were treated to jumping dusky dolphins and flocks of albatross. We saw 3 whales and after our 3 hour excursion we headed back, colder, but feeling triumphant.

Back at the township I bought some more greenstone for myself in the shape of a taniwha (river demon), though they also call it something different - it has the head of a fish, a body of a man, and a tail of something else. I think the stories about taniwhas are wonderful, and my aunt tells me that a recent motorway near Huntley was diverted past a swamp that supposedly contains a taniwha.... After a dinner of warming soup and some cheese I enjoyed the first early night in bed with a book for a long time and a long and deep sleep.

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Seal
Seal
Concealed seal
Concealed seal
Looking for whales with echo-locat…
Looking for whales with echo-loca…
Whale!
Whale!
Kaikoura
photo by: bluemarbletreader