17th – High on Whales

We woke up nice and toasty in our little home and after nice hot too long (not sorry) showers, breakfast and a little cheeky load of laundry we made our way down to the car park for the whale watching. Ooo so exciting! We checked in at the desk and were told to come back in about 45 minuted for the safety briefing. We went back to Joe to pack a bag of snacks for the trip and to take our Kaikoura Crackers. The thought of ‘should we really take this random under the counter drug we were told bout’ only entered our heads for 2 seconds to be honest and it was down the hatch before we could convince ourselves otherwise.

At least the weather seemed pretty calm and after waiting a wander along the beach we had our safety briefing in a big group at reception. The moment the man started talking my head suddenly had a freak out and I felt like I’d just come back up from doing a headstone for three hours. I felt very woozy but not in a bad way and I couldn’t keep my eyes still! Believe it or not, I’ve never tried any sort of drugs so I’m only going to assume this is what it feels like to be a type of… high! I couldn’t walk totally straight but I didn’t have that panic feeling I’d suffered with those bloody vertigo episodes so I wasn’t freaking out. Plus I was damn well going on this whale watching tour! Javi said he felt a little dizzy too so we put it down to the Cracker taking effect…! The group was then put on a bus that drove us about 10 minutes out of town to where the boats were.

We hopped on our snazzy looking blue catamaran and were told better to be at the back if you think you’ll get seasick. As we slowly backed out of the harbour every other thing the young guy on the mic said was about seasickness. The warning signs, how to prevent it, what symptoms you’ll get, the best things when you are experiencing it, the worst things, where to be sick, please don’t leave your sick bags on the seats… etc. It was enough to make your stomach turn already! Anyway we straight away seemed to go at full speed, bouncing over the waves and smashing down really hard, which although was awful for some individuals already feeling queasy, I personally tried to concentrate on how exhilarating the ride was! They did warn it may be like a roller coaster, and that was the guide on the boat speaking! I was also listening intently to all the info he was giving us on the whales, the resident sperm whales they have here, the other marine life etc,  but after a while neither of us could look at him coz he was licking his lips and looking sweaty… oop, first warning signs matey!

After about 15 minutes of this the captain slowed us down to a stop and we all went out on deck. After about 5 minutes we spotted the shot of water from a whale spout and off the boat raced towards it, this time with everyone hanging on to the rails! The fresh air and spray was great to be honest and strangely the druggy feeling seemed to have gone and as long as I tensed my stomach when he revved it over the waves I was good. Anyway the sight of any animals was the perfect distraction!

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We drifted alongside this huge sperm whale as he slowly swam along the surface – they spend most of their time in great depths of water and often only come up every 2 hours to oxygenate for 10-15 minutes, so to see 1 on a 2 hour boat trip was pretty cool. We got tons of photos and the sun started shining so that was nice. After what felt like a long time the captain said over the tanoy “alright guys he just gave me the wink so if you wana have your cameras ready for that fluke photo he’s gonna dive in 3, 2, 1…” and snap snap click whirr went everyone’s cameras, phones, ipads and gopros. Cool slow mo of the tail though.

He informed us he’d been told of another whale sighting so we all took our seats (or different ones as the sickies had taken our backrow seats) and off we sped. Another 10 minutes and an ecology talk later we pulled up alongside two other boats and yep another sperm whale, this one seemed bigger. He graced us with his presence for only about 5 minutes and then winked and did the dive. Another cool tail shot.

Now was time to whizz back along the shoreline and along the way we were chased and then surrounded by hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of tiny dolphins! These were the dusky dolphins from this area and oh god are they CUTE. They were so playful and jumping right up by the boat and smacking the water up with their tails – it was almost impossible to get photos as I was too busy looking with my eyeballs! They hung around for ages and we all were entertained by their frolics and flips and spins. Oh and there were a good few babies too!  As we had to leave a bit later a few common dolphins approached too and the smaller dusky dolphins sped off, as the captain said he had to take us back now. Argh. Could have watched those forever.

So 2 whales and hundreds of dolphins was not bad going at all! We were happy with that for sure. When we’d come down 100% from our excitement of the trip (or the Cracker had worn off who knows haha) we left the little town of Kaikoura and started the drive up north to Blenheim, wine country. We stopped in the first picnic area to cook up some fajitas as we were starving, then as we drove along the coast I suddenly spotted a sign saying Ohau Waterfall Walk and putting 2 and 2 together with there being tons of seals right near the road, realised this was to the waterfall where the baby seals play! Ro had told me about this and so had my cousin Belen who was out here in November. I made poor Javi turn around at the next safe place and we went back – yay what luck! We walked for five minutes through dense forest and then a gushing stream appeared and you are standing on a rocky ledge about a foot above the water where baby seals were just having a great time! Aw it was the cutest thing ever and they only occasionally glanced at us weird brightly coloured humans all taking pic after pic of them and all the females ooing and aahing – they were far too busy twisting and playing tag and chewing twigs in the water… Gah the cutest! We followed them and the path upstream to a beautiful waterfall where there were more youngsters playing. What a lovely lovely peaceful sight to see. A highlight honestly!

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Back on the road a little while later we found our spot for the night. I’d decided to join a winery tour tomoro so needed to be in one of a few certain areas around Blenheim to be picked up and after a way too long a conversation we decided on a motor home park type place with great reviews in a tiny junction called Spring Creek. It was all tattered looking and wooden and everything had vines growing all over it but it was so charming. We parked right on a crystal clear bubbling little river and hooked up to the power (treat for Joe). We immediately clocked the sign saying “feed our pet eel Eddie and his friends! No swimming or fishing in the river or you’ll disturb our pets” haha. And to be honest we’d seen in the reviews about eels in the river. So I took some ham to the water, about 10ft from our van, and one of the big slimy buggers swooshed himself up onto the bank and took it! Bloody hell, I thought,  I just saw evolution right there at my feet. That was entertaining. It also made me chuckle the way the ever so friendly and fearless ducks used the eels as stepping stones to get fed too haha. Ew slippery.

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We hunkered down for the night and enjoyed charging all our camera batteries for free, that’s always nice. Winery tomoro while Javi keeps house haha!

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