Non-whale watching at Kaikoura

I’m way behind on my blogging schedule. We’ve been roughing it the past few days, moving from campsite to campsite all over the north part of the South Island, and luxuries such as internet have been hard to come by. Hopefully I’ll have time to update you all on the cool stuff we did up there. For now, here’s a brief interlude about dolphins and seals.

We picked our mum up from Christchurch airport. It had been four months since she’d seen my brother and was a tender reunion. Top of the list for her was to go whale-watching, so the next morning we headed for Kaikoura. Sadly, the whales had left shop and we were not able to see them, but the company offered us a coastal nature tour instead. I had seen dolphins before and wasn’t expecting much but this was an incredible experience.

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Not long after we set sail we saw many seabirds, including a full-grown albatross taking flight from the water. Further down the coast our narrator indicated some dusky dolphins up ahead. I wasn’t expecting to see much but there were soon dozens surrounding the boat, playful and inquisitive. Acrobatic skills were on display, with much leaping out of the water and even somersaults.

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The duskies weren’t the only dolphins out at sea: we also caught a rare glimpse of the Hector’s dolphin; small, round-finned creatures that are only found in the waters around New Zealand. These fellows were much more shy and I didn’t get a good photograph, but it was a pleasure meeting them.

Another marine mammal we encountered from the boat was the New Zealand fur seal. The captain steered us unnervingly close to an offshore rock to reveal a seal nursery, where full-grown adults scrambled over the outcrop while the pups played in the rough waves smashing against the bare rock.

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It was a shame we didn’t get to see the whales, but the coastal wildlife trip was no poor substitute.

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