Dolphins, hotpools and pancake rocks - Kaikoura, Hamner Springs and west coast highway
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Kaikoura, Hamner Springs and Pancake Rocks
Our next stop on the south island tour was Kaikoura to go dolphin swimming in the lovely warm sea, we then went to Hamner Springs to warm up in the hot pools, next we stopped of at the pancake rocks on the way to Franz Joseph!
Kaikoura - It took us about 5 hours to get to Kaikoura from Murchinson. On the way we had an interesting experience attempting to get past a herd of sheep that were just wandering down the main road. We also stopped off at Ohau Bay to see some baby seals, which was pretty cool as after about a short walk we found a little waterfall with loads of baby seals just playing at the bottom.
When we got to Kaikoura we were going to have a night of luxury outside a hostel and or first shower for 3 days, but we ended up spending our money on fish and chips rather than our cleaniness, which meant it was another chilly night in Bob freedom camping. The next morning we were supposed to be dolphin swimming, but unfortunately the bad weather meant we had to postpone it untill the afternoon.
Luckily, the weather cleared up for the afternoon session, which meant the trip was on...wooo! We got kitted out in some badass wetsuits (with socks and hood.......we looked like ninjas!). After the usual scare tactic introduction video it was time to board the boat and find some dolphins. It took uss about an our before we found any dolphins, but during that time we saw some hugggee birds and 3 sperm whales.
When we found the dolphins, we snorkelled up and were told to jump in the water. The water was absolutely freezing, but as soon as we saw the dolphins jumping over us and swimming around us you couldn't complain! We were told if you made dolphin noises the dolphins were more playful. My dolphin noises turned into some weird squawk, whereas Jonny interpreted dolphin noises as singing I'm blue dabadeedabadiii to them.......strange boy! Every 15 minutes we were called back on to the boat to catch some more dolphins and then jump in again. We got in with them 3 times which was definately enough as it was soooo cold! When we got back on the boat we were given a hose down, some gingernut biscuits and a much appreciated hot chocolate. We then had a bit of time to take pictures of all the dolphins, it was only then we realised how many were out there, they were everywhere.........apparently we had swam with a pod of about 600 dolphins!
Once back at base me and Jonny got to have a shower for the first time in 4 days. We were the only ones who were excited about the showers........everybody else wasn't living like hillbillies!
Hamner Springs - After the dolphin swim it was time to get back on the road and find somewhere to park up for the night. When we got there we cooked our luxury tinned spaghetti and sausages, then got straight into bed as it was absolutely freezing. However, when you've just got to swim with 600 wild dolphins in the middle of the ocean you can't really complain.
We woke up in our ice box and went into Hamner Springs to hunt out some heat. Unfortunatley, the hot pools weren't open yet so we went to the log cabin for a hot chocolate as it looked warm. How wrong were we.......it was like a barn, all the doors were open, and eventhough they had a log fire they didn't seem to want to turn it on, so we sat in there shivvering. Luckily we then moved to another cafe which had actual heat, then it was time to get even more at the hot pools. At the hot pools we met Laura and Ross from our dolphin trip which was nice, they even made us a cup of tea after as their van had the luxury of a kettle......we were impressed!
Pancake Rocks - We had about a 5 hour drive to our next destination (Franz Joseph), however, we decided to add an extra 2 hour diversion so we could see the pancake rocks (basically some layered rocks pointing out the sea, not too exciting, but Jonny was excited so off we went). We just about got to what we thought were the pancake rocks in daylight, but after a walk down the trail, we soon realised we were at the wrong stop, so we attempted to run back up the track to board Bob and find th real pancake rocks before the sun set, however, I was being greatly hindered by a full bladder, so after a quick emptying we were back on the road in search of the pancakes. We just got to them in time and they were pretty impressive (so maybe worth the extra 2 hours drive)!
So our time from Abel Tasmen to Franz Joseph was pretty awesome, even if it was a bit chilly!