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Published: April 22nd 2012
18th April ’12 Kaikora to Picton
The stars of today were the seal pups that we came across at the Ohau Stream waterfall walk just outside of Kaikura. We would have just driven past this ordinarily as it was just a lay- by round a sharp bend with a sign to a waterfall, but we had stopped on the other side of the bend at another lay by to have one last attempt at spotting whales. While there we saw a couple of large seals on the rocks and Howard started talking to this lady who told us about the baby seals on the waterfall walk.
So going slowly round the bend with eyes peeled we found the layby car park and stopped. There was a sign explaining how the fur seals used this stream and waterfall whilst the pups were growing. The mother seals leave the pups there and head down stream and out to sea to hunt then return to feed the pups. We started up the path which followed the stream through a wood and occasionally we heard the grunts of seals and saw a couple on rocks down near the water. Following the path upwards
we came across a seal pup sat really close to the path on a rock, it was totally bizarre it just sat there looking at us and didn’t seem fazed by humans being so close.
Eventually the path ended by a large pool at the base of a waterfall. It’s hard to describe the first moment when you brain registers that all the movement you can see are actually hundreds of seal pups. It was magical and very moving.
The pups were literally larking about, diving and flipping in the water, swimming fast up to the waterfall and then zooming back again. Some just sat on rocks posing for photos and waving their flippers! I have never seen anything like it and the fact that they were only feet away was incredible.
Walking back down we came across a few seals in a little pool area downstream and they were hilarious. One of them kept diving into the pool, swimming at top speed to the other side, flipping itself around and out of the water onto a rock and then doing it all again and again. Occasionally it detoured to zip up the rock and nudge one
of its mates who was just sitting there watching, it was just like kids trying to get their friends to join in playing!
Totally knocked out by this experience we reluctantly left them to their games and headed on.
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