Kaikoura and Whales
We had booked ourselves onto the whale watching trip during the journey from Franz Josef but knew that this was yet another adventure dependant on the elements. Even if we could get onto the water there was no guarantee we would see any sealife let alone the sperm whales I was desperate to see. This area of New Zealand is particularly good for viewing whales and dolphins and many diffferent species can be seen. I was lucky enough to see orcas in Vancouver on my Canada trip and although would not have been disappointed to see more orcas, I really, really wanted to see sperm whales. As we had arrived at Kaikoura late the previous evening we hadn't seen much of the town. Driving to the whale watching company we were blown away by how beautiful it was. All towns in New Zealand have a "quaint" look about them because there are no huge skyscrapers or department stores right in the heart of the towns. The supermarkets/shopping malls are on retail parks at the edge of the towns, easier to get to by car, park up and buy all your groceries etc in bulk, load the car and go home. The personal businesses seem to be in the heart of the towns which give such a homely feel.
We were picked up from the whale watching company and taken to the boat. Once aboard we had to stay inside for the trip out to sea but were told that there was a pod of sperm whales in the area. Of course they don't hang about waiting for the humans to come and gawp at them and so are constantly on the move. They also dive for about 45 minutes so even if spotted by the time the boat gets to the area they are in they could be about to dive again. There were spotters on the boat but we were also told what to look out for which was the "blow" which happened about every 10 to 20 seconds until they dove again. Scanning the horizon over the vastness of the ocean it is pretty difficult to pick anything up but I soon spotted a "blow" and we were off in the direction. Just as we got there, the whale dived and so it was back to scanning and hoping. The thing is that a pod kind of synchronises itself so if they all dive at the same time then they will surface at roughly the same time. The next thing we knew there were two next to the boat and although you don't see much of them, just knowing they are there is awesome. We were lucky to see quite a few and I have photos of a couple of flukes. Quite frankly it couldn't have gone any better.
There had been a large pod of dusky dolphins around the area earlier that morning but one of the other boats out at the same time of us said that the pod had separated into a lot of smaller pods and they couldn't find them. Nevertheless we went off in the general direction and yet again were lucky enough to see these beautiful, cheeky creatures playing around the boat. They really are delightful and some of them put on quite a show for us with flips and splashing. A fantastic day.
Unfortunately we had no time to explore Kaikoura further as we needed to get on the road to Picton. We wanted to eat properly this evening but needed an early night as we had to be at the dock for the ferry at 5.45. Both of is wished we had more time for Kaikoura a magical, beautiful place.