Whale Watching In Kaikoura

Our tour round New Zealand was kind of a whistle-stop tour, in which we gave ourselves only five weeks to do it all! Half the time we spent on the north island, and half on the south.

To get south we got the ferry from Wellington, which involved another massive bus ride from New Plymouth to Wellington, and another pre-dawn start to get the ferry itself.

It’s a shame we couldn’t have spent more time in Wellington. On the one evening we spent there, just taking a few hours to walk around and have a soy hot chocolate, we already liked it much better than Auckland. Honestly, if I was flying into NZ this is the place I’d choose to land.

The early start did mean we got to enjoy the gorgeous sunrise on Wellington harbour,

sunrise in wellington harbour

adios wellington

early morning beauty

and the three hour journey gave us time to chill out a bit. You could watch a movie,

in ferry entertainment

but we chose to get some picture sorting done in an effort to catch up with ourselves.

picture sorting

But pretty soon we were arriving in Picton, a gorgeous little port town that made me think that the south island was going to be a good place to be. 🙂

hello picton

We had a bit of time to kill before we had to catch our bus, so we headed into town and got ourselves a bit of carbonara. But pretty soon it was time for the second leg of our journey; the coach to Kaikoura.

The landscape along the way was just beautiful,

beautiful colours

and Lena got real excited as she started to see some proper mountains off in the distance,

I see mountains!

but the novelty soon wore off when faced with the desire to play sudoku, lol.

mountain vs sudoku (sudoku wins)

Kaikoura (prnounced Kai-core-ah, not Kai-koo-rah, which means ‘bird poop’ or something like that) is a pretty small little town on a bay, pretty much servicing the tourism industry.

kaikoura, from our hostel

Our hostel was a few kilometres away from the centre of town, which sucked when it came to walking, but couldn’t be argued with when it came to views.

the bay at kaikoura

But the distance wasn’t too much of a pain, as we were just there for a couple of nights to see some whales, then we’d be moving on.

Actually I say ‘we’, but Lena opted to skip the whale watching in favour of a wee nature trek of her own (hilarious Google translation here), not just because she’d seen whales before, but with all the bad weather warnings, and her recent queasiness on the coach trips we’d been taking, she didn’t think she’d enjoy it that much.

And so it was, solo, that I set out on my trip to go see me some whales!

Not that the expedition was guaranteed. When I’d called them to book the day before they didn’t know if they’d be going out, as the weather had been so bad recently. So it was with some doubt in my mind that I did the twenty five minute walk into town. When I got down there things were looking good,

a lovely day for whale watching

so I was hopeful, but since weather can be very different out to sea I couldn’t know until I checked in.

Thankfully (and unsurprisingly really, considering the title of this post, lol) the whale watching was going ahead. So I booked in, paid, and got down to waiting for the fun to begin.

We had a safety briefing, then it was a twenty minute bus ride to the harbour where our whale watching vessel awaited our arrival.

our vessel

I sat near the back, as that was where to turbulence would be the least, and so also the seasickness,

on board ship

but in the end it wasn’t much of a factor. The sea was a bit rough, but no one got sick (as far as I know anyway).

Our host was funny, and kept us amused and informed, while all the time we kept a lookout for signs of whale activity.

To begin with there wasn’t much to see except land, seagulls, and a whole lot of sea.

new zealand from the ocean

one mean looking albatross

a whole lot of nothing

While we spread out around the deck to see what we could see, the Captain of the boat got a little more technical, having a go with a hydrophone to see what he could hear.

keep an eye out for whales

hydrophone tracking

hear anything

After a lot of looking and listening we picked up something, and so we were off again to try and catch it. We got there, but only just in time to sneak this photo,

our first sighting

before it disappeared into the depths, never to be seen again.

But no matter, soon we were on the trail of at least three more whales. The crew got us near to where we needed to be, and once more we began our search.

I tell you what, it might sound boring just standing looking out to sea, searching for something you’re probably not going to see even if you’re looking at it (in these kinds of things, experience is everything), but I really enjoyed the darting about from place to place, the rushing upstairs, the waiting, the rushing downstairs again to go to the next likely location as quickly as possible. I liked the excitement of possibility, and the crew did a great job of keep up the air of anticipation.

They were also good at finding whales, and soon we had out first proper sighting. Can you see the spray from it’s breathing in the photo below? That’s what we were looking out for all this time. Hard to spot, huh?

can you see the whale

We got to snap a few shots of it’s back,

spray

whale hump

whale fin

but just a few before he too was off to do his underwater thing. (NB: I keep saying ‘he’ as these were all males, the females hanging out elsewhere with the kids this time of year – hence the lack of calls of “Thar She blows!”)

We’d had a sighting, but we weren’t going to rest there. Our guys were looking for something proper. And soon we were rewarded with a rare opportunity; a chance to see two whales together in the wild.

a rare sight

What was really good about this, was not only did I manage to finally get some good shots, including a bit of whale tail,

breathing easy

whale tail

but I also managed to get this video of a whale diving, which I think is just awesome! 🙂

And with that wonderful sight, and with the clouds rolling in and the raindrops starting to fall, our expedition was at an end. We headed back into shore, and I went and got me some tea, cake, and a portion of chips to celebrate.

All in all, a successful bit of whale hunting. I had a fun day out, got some nice snaps, and though we didn’t see much if you add it all together, the fun we had just looking made for a really great experience in my book! 😀

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