Published: January 5th 2010January 5th 2010
Kaikoura to swim with dolphins 19th to 21st Decemeber
We arrived in Auckland (North Island) at 4am feeling a little tired but excited about the next leg of our journey and also about the fact that we’d just time travelled, crossing the date line so the 18th of December didn’t exist! The New Zealand customs officials were very friendly (the friendliest I’ve experienced yet) and allowed us to keep out olive and blue cheese paste and dulce de leche that we had been worried the tight customs rules would not allow us to take through. We followed the long blue line from the international terminal to the domestic one and boarded our connecting flight to Christchurch (South Island). Once landed we caught the bus to the city centre and had a great (albeit expensive as we were used to South American prices) breakfast. We left our backpacks at a friendly youth hostel and wandered around Christchurch taking in Cathedral Square with live music and market stalls.
It was a beautifully sunny day so we walked down to the River Avon and lay on its shaded banks watching the punts go up and down the river and listening to Christmas
carols, a very nice way to relax after being on a plane.
At 4.30pm we boarded our bus to Kaikoura, a coastal town about 2 hours north of Christchurch where we were going to enjoy the experience of swimming with dolphins. The drive was along a beautiful coastal route and after our long bus journeys in South America the 2 hours flew by. Upon arrival we knew we had an 8 minute walk to the hostel and with men being supposedly good with directions and with Doddy being a man he led the way, ignoring requests from me to say the sea should be on our left and not on the right as was the way he was taking us. So, an hour later, two weary bodies turned up at the Albatross hostel, and all I’ll say is that sometimes it is best to listen to your girlfriend and follow directions!
It wasn’t long until we crashed out. Jet lag worked in our favour as we were both awake before our 5am alarm. The dolphin encounter was our Christmas presents from my parents and Doddy’s mum and Aunty Barb and provided us with the opportunity to swim with
With carol service
dusky dolphins in the wild. The trip was amazing. We went out off the coast of Kaikoura and it took about 20 minutes to find the dolphins. The boat skipper observed their behavior for a short while and as they were interested we were allowed to get in the water with them. It took a minute or so to get used to breathing with a snorkel, especially when having dolphins swimming all around you with some no more than a metre away.
We were encouraged to sing and make dolphin like sounds as this would interest them more and it seemed to work, the more we sang the more interest they showed though it did sound a little funny when you stuck your head up out the water and listened to the other people singing. The highlight for me was swimming in a tight circle and having a dolphin join for a bout 10 seconds and really feeling like I was making eye contact with it. Doddy enjoyed the experience just as much, diving down with dolphins above and below.
After we were all worn out with swimming we warmed up on the boat with hot chocolate and
cookies and watched the dolphins from onboard the boat. The boat could now go a bit faster and the dolphins loved jumping at the front and in the wake. The trip was rounded off with a visit to a large rock housing some New Zealand fur seals and their very cute pups. The back to shore for 9am, not bad for a mornings work! The dolphin encounter was amazing and we both thoroughly enjoyed it especially as we aware able to swim in the wild in their own natural habitat. A great Christmas pressie - thanks very much.
The rest of the day was fairly relaxed. We wandered into town and went for a walk on the beach. Dinner time soon came around and being in a coastal town we deiced to sample some fish and chips. The chip shop ‘Hines’ had been recommended to us by our boat skipper and he was not wrong. We both had Blue Cod, a local specialty and it was delicious, a real melt in your mouth kind of thing and the chips weren’t bad either. Back at the hostel and keen not to go to bed too early we played Pictionary with
a few other guests until we could keep our eyes open no more so retreated to bed.
On Monday 21st December we awoke early again but feeling revitalized so decided we would walk the peninsula before catching the bus back to Christchurch. The walk took us about 2.5 hours and took us through some beautiful scenery. We saw some more fur seals sun bathing on the beach and spectacular views of the rugged Kaikoura coastline. All too soon the walk was over and it was time to board our bus back to Christchurch.
There are more photos below