09.01.2009 - 09.01.2009 28 °C
9th January 2009
I'm not sure I'm pleased or disheartened to see the big green Kiwi Experience bus coming my way! More time on buses - bad for the soul I'm sure! BUT, I'm met by a bright and breezy Josh and I'm his first passenger of the day so get the pick of the seats - too easy!
Having picked up a full quota of people, we head north to the seaside town of Kaikoura - the first stop on this mammoth tour of New Zealand.
The first bit of good news is that we're going to be able to get some spaces for dolphin swimming this afternoon and tomorrow morning. However, Josh hands the clipboard around the other way up the bus meaning I'll be last to see it so doubt I'll get a space. Double gutted! Thankfully, fate intervenes and despite my worry, there is space for me in the afternoon.
I have pre-booked my accommodation in Kaikoura and to my dismay its about a mile out of town! Having been dropped off by Josh, I've got about 20 minutes to change into some appropriate clothing and high tail it round to the Dolphin Encounter office. My shins ache from speed walking all the way round but I manage to get to the office in time. Not sure I'll have the energy to swim now though!
We're given wet suits - oh they are so my favourite thing of all time now! We're given some hints as to how to attract the dolphins (they're wild dusky dolphins, not the Florida type that bark when you whistle they're that well trained) and we head off to the boat!
Its pretty calm but some people look green by the time we find pods of dolphins - the sights before me are something to behold. The boat's skipper reckons on about 150 dusky dolphins before us! We're allowed in the water with them about 6 tmies - each time I get in, dolphins swim up and around me, including baby ones! Despite being rocked by the strength of the Pacific Ocean current, I'm truly in my element and amazed by the level of interaction from these wild creatures. Its one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
On our return, as if we hadn't seen enough, we come across a baby humpback whale, a shark and some albatross. Spoilt or what? A little perturbed about the shark but I'm reassured by Brendan and Laura (who work on the boat), that they're not the aggressive kind!
I take my hot chocolate and enjoy the view back. I'm feeling very sorry for the ill people around me, including the Wolves fan who I resist pushing overboard!
What I haven't explained is that Kaikoura is nestled at the foot of some pretty impressive mountains. Even more impressive is that unbeknownst to most (as you can't see it!), is that just offshore, there is a shelf in the ocean floor which is about a mile deep, attracting an abundance of sea life - hence the seals, dolphins, whales et al that I have seen.
On my return I spend an hour or two looking around the town and make my way back (at a more leisurely pace) to the hostel for an early night - its been a big day!