Hey, me and sarah got on the kiwi bus from christchurch, with Duncan as our driver (a normal name for a change, no nickname!). It was a short drive up further north to Kaikoura, this place is amazing for sealife- loads of people go whalewatching, walk to the seal colonies, swim with dolphins or seals. We tried to book a swim with dolphins on the bus but they were fully booked for the day, so had to do it the next morning early before the bus- but even though its a half 4 am start, the dolphins are more playful in the mornings so its really cool- and our driver said there were hundreds and hundreds of them. I thought he was kidding.
We got to Kaikoura and went round the town, brought ourselves some cheap silver rings with white paua shell in them, beautiful. Paid for our dolphin swim at the centre, and did an 8km walk to the seal colony and back. Sarahs ankle got really sore- she sprained it when we did a walk in Abel Tasman national park a couple of weeks ago, I sprained my toe in Rotorua lol, and our sprains play up now and then. We did see alot on our walk- the beaches are really different here, the rocks are strange, like razor sharp edges sticking straight up, and some area are flat rocks with little streams in them, stretching out into the sea. Loads of birds- oyster catchers, herons and stalks. Loads of trapped fish, limpets and snails etc- we found some snail shells that are the same as Paua, kindof pinky. I got one to take home. There was a storm here recently and loads of the long kelp plants had washed up on shore, and we found greenstone, prob not jade but looks like it. When we got to the seal colony the seals werent as close as we thought they'd be, took some photos though and then came back round the headland and to town. Made our own dinner in our hostel kitchen and then hit the sack.
Had a not so good nights sleep- our hostel was lovely, called the Lazy Shag, but the german girl in our room faffed about all night and kept me awake for hours. We got up at 4am, got ready quickly and did the half an hour walk to the dolphin centre, was nice seeing the stars and is was still pitch black. Got suited up, shown a video about how to swim with the dolphins, got on the bus and were taken to their boat.
The rest of the morning was AMAZING! You sat on the back edge of their boat, in your wetsuit and snorkel gear, and then when the horn sounds and the boat slows you all jump off and swim in the direction the skipper points- straight into the path of the oncoming dolphin pods! OMG I thought people had been kidding when they said there were hundreds! Never seen so many dolphins in my life- you would see 15 or so speeding towards you in the sea, and they'd all split up and skirt around you, so close, and they'd click to each other and some of them would stop and look at you, or turn belly up and open their mouths at you.
Our first swim was surreal- we were all breathing so hard through the snorkels cus the water was so cold, it was just past dawn. We were told by our guide to act as dolphin like as possible to attract them and catch their curiousity- theyre totally wild and they live in a world of sound, so were told to make squeaking/high pitched noises, or clicking, and also to swim in circles, not to touch them, and hold you hands by your sides and swim without paddling. The first swim nobody made any noises cus we were all stunned at being surrounded by so many of them, I had some leap out of the water right next to me, and one dived under me then leapt up just in front of me. They were so beautiful and so incredibly fast- theyre Dusky dolphins, have a lighter shade on parts of their bodies, and theyre little dark eyes look right at you! So so cool. It was a real privilege. And our small group all got to see so many as they were hundreds. I dont know how the whole pod managed to weave between the people who stayed as a group on the surface. So agile.
Our skipper sounded the horn to signal for us all to get bk on the boat, and sit there again while we sped up in front of another pod, and then we swam with them again. This time we all made noises LOL. There was a group of about 8 of us, and I dont really like trying to snorkel around other people, so I always sped off away from the group, and I couldnt making clicking noises so I made squeaks lol. Loads of them sped by me and under me, and there were always a couple out of every 10 that would stop and check you out, and I would swim in a circle, and then they would just go mad lol- got incredibly playful and joined me, so Im going in circles and theyre doing circles around me! And they would get really excited and go way too fast lol, or jump out of the water and then carrying on circling with me. At one point I started laughing, and thats when I found out that they loved that noise! I have been told I have a sqeaky laugh lol. When I laughed the dolphin made a noise and started flying round me, then jumped up and sped off! It came whizzing back past me a couple of times then went to join its family. So so fast!! I did the same with a couple more dolphins, and they both got excited when I laughed, which made me laugh even more as I was just so happy! Sounds wierd but I think dolphins can make you feel better, just really really happy!
We all got bk on the boat again, and I spoke to sarah and told her she should circle with one of them- I usually started circling when I saw one of them hesitate by me, or slow down as it swam past, and then they wanted to play. They werent kidding when they said they were playful in the morning!
We had a third swim with the same pod as we caught up with them again, I always went away from the group so I could do circles with the dolphins without anyone being in the way, and when we got bk on the boat sarah said she'd circled with one too! I was absolutely shattered lol, didnt realise how fast I had been swimming to play with them, and I dont think Im a great swimmer lol.
One more time we went in with them, but this time our skipper went south to where an even larger pod had been found- 250 dolphins. This time we all had ages and ages in the water- they just wouldnt leave! I had the most amazing experiences of my life- at one point three dusky dolphins swam in a circle with me, one on the surface, one deeper than that one, and then one deeper, so all three above each other. They were smaller, younger than the other dolphins, and they would even weave around each other and swap positions, while going round in a circle round me. Absolutely amazing! I got really out of breathe after about 5 mins of that, and got carried away and dived down with them- but inhaled some water when I came bk up lol. So I had to float for a min and catch my breathe and choke! Made me feel better when sarah said shed choked- its easy to get carried away around the dolphins! I also had one of them come up and check me out- I was tired at this point and didnt go in a circle, and the dolphin turned upside down and just floated, next to me underwater, white belly up at the sky, and put its head back to look at me upside down. I laughed and it nodded its head, still upside down, and after a moment it swam off. After I thought maybe it was inviting me to play :-) I had a couple more swims with dolphins, and swam alongside some, I loved it when a family group of them would come swimming towards you, head on, and then all go under you as you floated at the top. They would often swim round and then go past you again, as if to have another look but then get going.
Eventually we got bk on the boat, all of us on a real high. We got changed, had hot chocolate and cookies, and took photos of the pods we went past on the boat. Got some cool photos, none of them do them justice or show how many of them there actually is, but still good photos. We got bk at about 9am, straight onto the kiwi bus and headed for wellington. We had been given leaflets about the conservation of the dolphins, and some pictures of them, so we looked at them on the bus. Me and sarah said we would come back to go whale watching, seal swimming, and dolphin swimming again. It really the way I had dreamed of swimming with dolphins- Ive always said I wanted to swim with them in the wild, not in an aquarium tank somewhere, so they had a choice, and I got to swim with hundreds of them in the wild! Just perfect. Something to cross off the list of things you just have to do in your life. And I'l do it again. Me and sarah said we would come bk and do the glacier hike too, rent a car and go round.
Anyhow, we got to Picton and took the ferry- yes, the one I had sea sickness on lol, this time I took a tablet before that I got at the ferry terminal, bu the sea was nowhere near as rough as last time, the boat hardly even moved at all, and we found a room like a living room, with reclinging leather chairs and a plasma screen TV, so we sat in there and chilled out. I fell asleep for like an hour and a half. Got there in no time and I felt fine. Phew! We spoke to a NZ women on the boat and we mentioned that we were going to Bangkok, and she said that it had been on the news all day that there have been riots there, 2 people killed and 70 injured- people rioting against the government. Me and sarah's flight went to bangkok and we had 3 days there before going home....
We got on the bus and went to our hostel, base again, in wellington. We went out for some crepes for dinner, and then went online and checked the news. Found that the british embassy is warning all travellers against going to Bangkok, or anywhere in thailand. Sarahs mum had emailed her, and she was going to phone sta for us and see if we could change our flight, maybe stop over somewhere else- LA or hong kong, or just have a very long flight home- 24 hours...we'l see what happens. Hopefully it works out ok. we have travel insurance so hope we can change it.
We spent the rest of the evening walking round wellington- saw orchid avenue, nice beach houses, nice beach and views of the city at night across the harbour, and we went to see the theatre where the LOTR films had their first premieres, the director peter jackson had refurbished it and the old theatre looks beautiful, winding marble staircases and giant mirrors. We wanted to watch a film there but nothing was on so weve come bk and will chill for a bit then go to bed- another early kiwi bus tomorrow to Taupo.... xx