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NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 15 November 2007 | Views [1187]

We’ve booked 2 nights in a hostel in Kaikoura, but are prepared to stay for 4 – 5 if the surf is right.  We’ve not seen anything that even looks like a wave let alone surf on our trip yet, so our hopes are high.  To increase our chances of surf and beaches to buggy on, we are not going directly to Kaikoura; but instead we are heading down the Christchurch highway to turn off and head back up the Easy coast highway 1.  Well as they say ‘The Gods must be against us’ there was not one beach that we could find that was anything but pebbles, there was not even the slightest wind even if we did; and as for the Surf!  There was absolutely nothing, and we mean NOTHING.  We arrived in Kaikoura a few hours ahead of what we had planned because of the Surf & beach situation, so we parked the ‘Bug’ at the Hostel and went to the Pub; purely to check the newspaper and the forecast for the following few days.  The forecast was dismal for the Surf to say the least, we had planned to stay here for few days but we cancelled that plan to head out the next day.  As forecast we awoke to a lovely Blue sky, no wind and loads of time to do something; and we did something that we’ll never forget. 

We booked ourselves a treat to ease our ‘sorrows’ of the previous day, an ½ hr flight on a small Aircraft over the local coast to go Whale watching.  We had our safety briefing and the Pilot informed us that the Sperm Whales tend to submerge for between 45 minutes up to 120 minutes, and then they would surface for approximately 10 minutes before diving again, our flight was due to take off at 1100 hrs but because they had spotted a couple that morning we should leave earlier than planned 1050 hrs as they were ‘due to surface soon’  Only 6 passengers and the pilot on this flight, so we all headed out to the Plane as soon as we could; on the horizon was a dense Sea mist that we hoped would not be so thick as to spoil the view.  We were in luck, the plane took off and headed out to sea for only 5 minutes before the mist not only thinned out; but totally cleared giving us the most clear view of the sea below we could have asked for.  On the flight out the pilot explained what to look for, and that we should inform him of any ‘sightings’ 5 minutes out, nothing yet.  10 minutes out, nothing yet.  15 minutes out, still nothing yet; oh no not another washed out day please.  20 minutes out, still nothing; only 10 minutes left and he needs 5 of that to get back!  Then over the Port side window was a small dark shape, with what looked like a ‘spray pattern’ around it; like the spray from a Whales blowhole we hoped.  YES it was, one of the most amazing sights we’ve have ever seen; there 750 ft below our aircraft was a Sperm Whale that had just surfaced.  The pilot advised us that it was a  Male approximately 18 mtr’s in length, then he banked to circle the aircraft on Em’s side; he flew in circles while the Whale sprayed and Em’ took the photos.  With a short warning he then banked and circled the Whale on my side, so my turn to take the photos; this was so amazing to see.  The pilot was great, he did this for at least 3 times each way to give all the chance to see this huge creature while it gently dived and surfaced; each time spraying from his blowhole.  The pilot informed us that the gentle diving action was to recover from his deep dive and to prepare for his next feeding expedition to the depths, the pilot talked about what to look for before the Whale dived again, but to be honest we were so excited about what we were seeing I think we all missed it; maybe it was the noise of the single engine?  The pilot suddenly shouted ‘Watch the tail dive’ and as he said that, the Whale just dived straight down below us; flipping his massive tail in the air on his way down.  This huge male Whale below us had had something happen to his tail, as he was clearly missing a section from the left hand side; we still don’t know how the pilot knew ‘when’ he was going to dive but we were so glad he did.  After that we were all buzzing in the aircraft on the way back in, we had been out for 40 minutes; good on the pilot to stay with the whale until it had dived out of view.

The past disappointment of the lack of Surf and beach had been forgotten, we talked of nothing but the Sperm Whale as we drove out of Kiakoura up highway 1 to Hopewell; via Picton.

Tags: Sightseeing


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