So I’m back from slothing!
I thought I’d show you some photos of a day trip that Hope and I went on to Kaikoura during our NZ trip. My boss had mentioned it to me, said it is a fantastic spot for whale watching. I (we) had never been whale watching before so it was a good opportunity to tick this one off the list. We decided to spontaneously leave that morning, and head 2hrs north from Christchurch in search of this small town. We were aware that we had not made a booking (we stayed up late talking, and forgot to use our valuable internet for something productive), and were fully aware of the possible consequences of not making a reservation – but that’s life. Living on the edge.
The drive north was beautiful. At first, we drove past farms and wineries, and once you get towards the coast, you come around the hills (some very steep) and out to the ocean. It is amazing. The coast is lined with rocks all the way to the town – you had to drive through some tunnels carved out from the rock mountain as there was no possible way of getting through. Mountains facing the sea from the Southern Alps – beautiful. There was some cloud towards the mountains, so they were not as clear – but still worth the look.
We made it to the whale watching HQ with no problems. We left our name for the next available trip out to see (I think it was around 1pm) so we had some lunch and walked around the area for a quick look. It was very windy, and therefore relatively cold, but it was a mostly sunny and pleasant day to be out near the water. There were some big waves too, so sitting by the beach listening to the water hit the rocks was peaceful. By the time the tourists were called in to wait for a roll call and to see what seats were left, we were back inside and waiting for our names to be called. We didn’t have to wait long – which was great! We were the first ones called up and were able to get seats. Woo!
We were all driven in a bus to the marina, where a boat was waiting for the group. Don’t ask me what type of boat it was, I have no idea. It was 2 stories, with seats inside, fully decked with a massive screen for an educational video to play as part of the tour. It was pretty good actually. The crew were excellent, the tour guide spoke of the history of the area, anatomy of the sperm whales, even a few political topics too.
As we were boarding the boat, I clearly remember thinking: “wow, this will be a fantastic experience, I must remember to thank my boss for this suggestion”. Now came the interesting part. Remember I said it was a windy day? And the waves? Well… just imagine what happened next. After may be 15 minutes out at sea (I should mention that this boat was quick), my stomach was turning. I have never been seasick in my life but this was the mother of all seasickness. I tried to keep it together so I could at least see one whale – I’ve always wanted to see a whale…but physically, it was draining. We saw our first whale after may be 20 minutes at sea. It was beautiful! I think its name was Tutu from memory. It was a male whale. We didn’t see all of it, mainly its tail – it was still beautiful.
There were a few sea birds out as well, some flew very closely towards us without any fear.
Throughout the rest of the trip, I think I got up once (to see the 2nd whale) but I couldn’t handle it. I just made it enough to take a photo of him (2nd tail photo above), I’ve never been so weak or green in my life! Poor Hope spent some time with me trying to make me feel better. I know she tried, even if she was laughing so hard internally (yes, I know you were!). There was no use, I spent the rest of the trip trying to calm myself, control my breathing and close my eyes. I ended up falling asleep! Not even the 3 children on board, who were probably less than 6 years old, did not throw up. Not only did I lose the contents of my stomach – I think I lost my dignity!
By the time we finished the tour, back on the bus and on our way back, I was coming back to life slowly. Just needed some food. On the way home, we accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up at a look out towards the south of the town. It’s a small spot where all the fur seals hang out and sleep. These guys were even on the car park so be careful if you are ever driving around here.
By the end of trip and when we were on our way home, again, I remember thinking: “wow, I will never forgive my boss for this”. Even though we didn’t see as much at sea, and threw up the contents (or lack of) of my stomach 3 times, it was still very impressive to see such a large creature. Not everyone gets to do that in their lifetime – so I absolutely recommend anyone to go whale watching! You won’t regret it (unless of course you get seasick).