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Published: October 3rd 2015
After the long drive and with Dayna declaring that her eyeballs hurt because there was too much to look at, we decided that Dean could do the reconnaissance mission into town solo. The girls pounced on the wifi vouchers faster than it takes a dog to sniff out a kiwi and I took advantage of the guest laundry.
Dean returned with tales of seals and their pups in close proximity, news of a fish and chip shop close by and holding a box of Kapiti icecreams. Good times!
Our dinner from a nondescript fish shop was definitely a highlight - fresh fish (rig and groper) and crispy non-greasy chips while watching the sun set behind the Kaikoura mountains.
On October 15, NZ has scheduled a national earthquake drill; 'Shakeout Day'. We decided to do a drill to prepare us for the early hour we're going to have to wake up on Thursday to catch the train in Christchurch. At 8 am, Dean roused the girls. Usually it takes them a long time to get up, dress, eat, etc. Time seems to stand still. However, with threats of losing access to their devices hanging over them, by 8:20 we were in the
car and heading up the coast. It was a minor miracle. Although the motel room looked like it had been hit by a quake and the girls were grumbling like an aftershock. The lesson I took from our drill was that we would need to pack our bags the night before, put them in the car and have some food ready. A couple of kiwi fruit and a tangelo were inhaled before we left the car park.
Hugging the coast for twenty minutes, we drove to Oahu for our first tourist activity for the day. A short walk to a waterfall was pretty but we didn't see any seal pups playing in the pool. As Eleanor said, they're probably allowed to sleep in. We did, however, see lots of seals on the rocky beach opposite, so the trip wasn't totally in vain.
Hungry, we decided to eat breakfast at a cafe in Kaikoura but not before a quick detour to the seal colony on the south side of town. Lots of seals and pups to be seen. An overly concerned man wearing a high vis vest ensured we knew to stand 10 metres from the seals because they were dangerous
wild animals, infected with syphilis and a bite would see you in hospital for three days. He circled the carpark a few times in his little Honda civic, dispensing his advice to the tourists in a gruff, unfriendly manner. With no official looking insignia, we reckon it was highly likely he was a local retiree with a lot of time on his hands.
Once we had our fill of sleepy seals, breakfast at a cafe for the first time on this holiday was one activity that had piqued the girls' interest. Well, first time cafe breakfast for them! Because they took their sweet time arising in the mornings, they have had to make do with toast or cereal up until now. French toast, bacon and eggs, smoothies, juices, muffins and other goodies filled our bellies in readiness for the day's main activity - a swimming encounter with dolphins.
Dean, Eleanor and Dayna donned wetsuits and joined six other crazy tourists for a dip in the ocean, about a twenty minute boat ride off South Bay. They jumped in with a pod of dusky dolphins and spent some time splashing about in the freezing water and having a memorable experience, before
the dolphins accelerated and took off. Dayna was ecstatic with he swim, declaring it the highlight of the trip: "At one stage I was part of the pod, dolphins had surrounded me and was swimming amongst them!" The boat then followed five dolphins for a while, but the next few immersions weren't as successful as the first. Once the swimmers were back on board, trying to warm up, we spotted some Hector's dolphins. They hung around for a while before they too swam away. A lone fur seal had been watching us with interest and it soon disappeared so the captain turned the boat and we headed back to shore.
Fish and chips for dinner again (from a shop proudly proclaiming it was No. 2 in NZ and No.1 on the south island, or some such outrageous claim) - but the blue cod and elephant fish wasn't as delicious as the meal from the previous night.
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