Whale Hunting

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Kaikoura
February 7th 2014
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: -42.4023, 173.681

Our journey to Kaikoura for the whale-watch 'experience' was somewhat extended by the necessity to return to the hotel at Te Mahia to collect a nighdress that someone had forgotten to pack - so that was an extra hour of tight twisty roads.
When we arrived we discovered Kaikoura is a town is entirely devoted to getting tourists to see whales - by boat, by plane, by helicopter. There were also seals and albatrosses to be 'experienced'. So masses of motels and cafes catering to these passing tourists. Our motel had a large contingent of chinese tourists who spent much of their time yelling across the courtyard to each other.
Next morning we assembled at the Whale Watch centre for our informative video and safety briefing and then were bussed 10 minutes to the boats - substantial catamarans with big engines that hold 50 or so people. For the high speed journey out to where the whales are likely to be everyone is seated inside while the boat races through the swell then when it approaches a whale on the surface everyone rushes out to the rail. These are Sperm whales, all males, that live and feed in the deep water here before going off to warmer waters in the Pacific to find females for high jinks!
They rest on the surface for 10 minutes or so building up oxygen reserves before diving again to resume the hunt. So whenever the call came onthe radio that another whale had been spotted the boat raced off, sometimes allowing passengers to stay gripping rail and enjoying the thrill of the chase (all wishing they had seen the spount and shouted "There She Blows!" - hard for photos to do justice to all this which was the most exciting bit with spray going everywhere. We saw 5 whales, and some seals, and some albatross. A good morning.
And so off to the mountains in the middle of South Island and Arthur's Pass.

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