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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 266: Whale watching in Kaikoura

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 28 July 2008 | Views [942]

On the beach at Kaikoura

On the beach at Kaikoura

Monday 28th July

After a good nights sleep I got up feeling a lot more energised than I did the day before, and my mood was made all the better by the fact that the sun was out and the rain had disappeared. This was also the news I was waiting for and a positive sign that the whale-watching trip might actually go ahead. Beth and a few of the others were leaving on the Magic Bus for Picton and she was disappointed not to get the chance to go out on the sea as well.

With my place on the boat booked, I got changed and went for a walk into town, and along the beach. Kaikoura is situated at the foot of snow-capped mountains, and on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, a combination that seems to be typical of New Zealand's South Island. It was a beautiful morning and the scenery was fantastic, and I took it all in while I got the chance. I wasn't going to be in NZ for much longer, and this was the last really stunning place that I would get to visit.

The whale-watching tours depart from the small port at South Bay, a ten minute drive from Kaikoura, and we boarded the boat shortly before 11.00. The company that has the licence to take people out on such trips was very well organised, with top range boats equipped with audio-visual presentations that brought the whole ocean area, and the creatures that lived in and around it, to life. The guide was also entertaining, a lady with a good sense of humour and less staid than the norm.

The captain was responsible for locating the sperm whales using echo location equipment (that looked like a loudspeaker stuck to a rod that was dipped into the water, the sounds from which the captain could hear using earphones). He was also helped by some of the planes that bring people out on alternative whale-watching trips from the air. We managed to see three sperm whales, the major attraction of these being when the whale dives beneath the warming, leaving it's trailing flukes in the air, allowing us tourists to get that all important photo. We got back to shore about two hours after we had left. It was expensive enough at NZD130, but it was also a rare opportunity to see some amazing creatures up close.

After I was back on dry land, I went for a walk along the coast outside Kaikoura, stopped off at a roadside stall for some chowder and fried mussels, saw some seals and birds along the way, and got back to Kaikoura at 16.00. I took a look in some of the shops, did a bit of emailing and got back to the hostel for the evening. After a dinner of fish and chips, I just chilled out for the evening, looking forward to getting back to Christchurch and moving on to the US.


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