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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Kaikoura, a washout!

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 21 May 2008 | Views [1480]

Early morning on the beach at Kaikoura

Early morning on the beach at Kaikoura

My shoulders felt pretty good after the previous days kayaking at sea, as I set off for the drive back down to Nelson. I made a quick stop off in Nelson to check out the shops and grab some lunch. Whilst there I bumped into 'H', the American chap that was kayaking the day before. He was a pretty sound fella and we had a quick natter before heading our seperate ways. I drove on to Kaikoura, found a camp site which was near to the Whale watching company base, booked a trip for tomorrow and got some food on the go.

The next morning I walked around to the whale watching base and booked in for my trip. The sea had been getting rougher the last few days and the weather was closing in a bit, so I was hoping this would be a good trip out today to save waiting around here too long. Once we were out at sea on the very cool boats they use, it was even more evident just how much swell there was! The spray from the boat was going over the entire boat as it sunk into the gaps between the swell, it was going to be a rough trip. The people that run the trips are very professional, including having a medical officer on board to help with anyone's sea sickness! They have a large screen TV at the front of the very comfy seating cabin, which shows on a map, the depth of the sea bed, direction of travel and speed. The female guide was providing a commentary on the captain and whale watchers activities, whilst telling us all about our target for the trip, the sperm whale. The captain would stop now and then to put a tube over the side of the boat and listen through his head phones for sounds of the whales to try and pin point their location. We chased one whale for over an hour, with help from a plane overhead which was conducting its own tour, and a sister boat from an earlier launch. When we finally heard of the whales surface, we stormed across there, making most people on the boat feel a little more sick, only to see the tail disappearing from view on the horizon as the whale took a dive to hunt for food! That was to be the extend of my whale spotting for the rest of the week... I did manage to point and click my camera in the right direction, and thanks to it being set on a high resolution for the day and being able to crop the photo, you can see the whales tail between the water droplets on the boat window, lol! I recieved an 80% refund from the base for the lack of whale 'experience' and booked on to the tours for the next day. The next day was spent waiting all day, as the morning tour was cancelled, followed by the midday one and afternoon one, each of which  I booked myself on to. I then booked for the next day, hoping that it might go ahead, but by now the outlook was clear, it was going to keep raining here, and the sea was getting higher and higher.

Friday afternoon Chris arrived in town, who I met and spent my first three days of this mammoth trip with, back in January in Bangkok! (So long ago!!) We had crisscrossed a couple of times on our travels, but failed to meet up until now. It was great to catch up and we ended up going out for food and a few beers... which kind of accidentally turned into a monster session! We watched some rugby in the first pub and put the world to rights, then kicked some kiwi ass at pool with a group of friends who were in town for the night up from Christchurch, and then went on to the late pub with those guys where we chatted to all sorts of people, locals and travellers and ended walking back to our accomodation about 4am...

The next morning I got up when my alarm clock went off, at 7:30am, as we had booked to do the swimming with dolphins experience this morning! Ooops. I was not feeling great, but I got up anyway, had a wash, got dressed and then called Chris who's phone was switched off! On reflection, staying in bed seemed like a good idea, so I called the dolphin place and moved my booking to the afternoon slot, although they weren't so impressed with such a late change, and grabbed a couple more hours sleep. Around lunch time I woke and called to cancel the booking altogether, which was accepted without charging my credit card luckily as the tour was cancelled due to the weather anyway! I caught up with Chris later, who was feeling a little rougher than I was by then and we had lunch and walked to the dolphin center as Chris hadn't called to cancel at all, so needed to try and rebook and save any costs. As they'd cancelled the tours, he was ok, if a little embarrased, and we booked ourselves onto the next days morning tour, determined to stay off the booze tonight. That evening we did have a few beers (not enough to cancel any trips) and a fairly good Thai meal at a restuarant in town along with a young Swiss guy that was sharing Chris's dorm at the hostel, and we watched the Super 14 semi finals, which were excellent. I was more excited about rugby too, as I'd succesfully purchased a ticket for the All Blacks versus England on their tour for Christchurch on the 21st June.... can't wait for that!!

All of the tours the next day were cancelled, and even our proposed walk around the point had to be aborted as the rain was terrible. This whole stay had been a pretty big let down with regards to outdoor activities and wildlife spotting! We decided to head on the next day and I was going to give Chris a lift to Christchurch where he was going to pick up a hire car for the couple of weeks he is here on the south island and then move on across Arthurs Pass to the west coast.

Hopefully the weather will do us some favours over there!!

Pictures of the washout that was Kaikoura [and the whales tail!] are over on facebook for you to check out.

Tags: animals, lazing, onward planning, the great outdoors


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