After leaving Christchurch I continued making my way up north to stop in Kaikoura. I had met one of the girls, Kate, on the bus already the night before, as we had been in the same dorm room in the hostel. It was a cool group of people on the bus with most of us talking amongst each other. Kaikoura is the place to look for whales, but a lot of them missed out on whale watching as it sadly got cancelled for the rest of the day due to the water being too rough. Instead we all went shopping and got a few drinks to take back to the hostel with us and we then watched the Eurovision Song Contest through my computer – I still can’t believe the song that won hahaha (TOY). Afterwards we went to one of the dorm rooms and played some card games until late in the evening. It was a really fun evening where I got to know a lot about the different people from the bus.
The next day, all of the guys left for Wellington except Kate who had also planned to stay in Kaikoura for 3 nights. Because the whale watching trip got cancelled the day before, we had both decided to go on the first trip in the morning.
The boat took us out to the big underwater canyon, where the whales hang out, and one of the crew members started to listen to the whales’ echolocation through a hydrophone she stuck in the water whenever the boat stopped, to make sure we were going towards a whale. After a good number of stops to listen for whales, they eventually found the location of one that they knew would emerge only a few minutes later because the whale had gone quiet. It was quite exciting to know that we were getting close, and that there was at least one whale very near us and possibly beneath us. The whale ended up being really close to the boat and was surfacing for about 6 minutes and then dived back down into the deep. When the tail came up we could see the whale’s characteristics, showing that it was one of their semi-resident whales called Tutu – short for Tutumairekurai, meaning ‘Special Ocean Dweller’ – who had been in Kaikoura since 1991! It was an amazing experience and it was quite hard for me to even try to imagine what the actual size of the whale was, as we could only see just a little bit of the top of it and its tail. We also saw some New Zealand fur seals chilling on the rocks, dusky dolphins swimming both past and underneath the boat, and albatrosses flying around and over the boat.
Kate and I went for fish & chips after the boat trip and later made ourselves some amazing brownies and a truly relaxing movie night!
On a walk around the peninsula
The following day, Kate and I went on a walk around the Kaikoura peninsula which took us through a forest, lead us down to a beach, up on fields and eventually down to the stone shore where the fur seal colony was. And yes, there were many – including some adorable baby seals! It was a long walk but a beautiful and very interesting one, with a good feeling of accomplishment seeing all the seals and the amazing scenery surrounding Kaikoura.
Next day we continued on The Kiwi Experience Bus, passing through Wellington and Taupo and eventually hit Auckland on 18th April, where Kate and I said goodbye to one another and I met up with the Kennedy’s again.