We took the Intercity bus from Fox Glaicer to Greymouth and then caught the Tranz Scenic train across to Christchurch. The train journey was amazing with spectacular scenery for the whole 5 hour trip. We had read that it was the 4th most beautiful train journey in the world and it certainly lived up to those claims. We went up through the mountain ranges and across viaducts which were up to 70 metres above the rivers below. We spent one night back in Christchurch before catching another bus up to Kaikoura.
We arrived in Kaikoura with our activities already booked, swimming with dolphins on the day we arrived and whale watching the day after. We had a long walk from the bus stop to the the hostel, but we got there and got changed ready for our swim.
We had to wear attractive wetsuits for the swim, head to toe including balaclava style hat and socks and gloves. The water was freezing cold though so it was appreciated. We were also given fins and a snorkel to help us watch the dolphins. Before setting off we were told what we could do to encourage the dolphins to interact with us. This included swimming around in circles, diving down and singing like a dolphin. All aparently make the dolphin more likely to play with us. So we set off in a group of 13 and found a big pod of Dusky Dolphins almost immediately, all dressed and ready to go we had to wait for the signal from the boat before we could slide in. As soon as we heard the signal we were straight in, and Hannah nearly hit a dolphin just getting in! They were only there for a few seconds before swimming away, probably scared by the loud horn that was our signal to get in! We got back on the boat and followed the pod (about 100 strong!), this time the dolphins didnt swim away. There's no chance to touch them, we were told not to anyway as they are completely wild but we couldnt even if we wanted to because they were so fast. It was great fun, we found they like it if you swim around in circles and they follow you around for a bit before swimming off. The singing had no effect, i had partial success with the diving down with 3 dolphins swimming around me but the bouyancy of the wetsuit meant i struggled to stay down for long. Once they swam away we got back on the boat and went searching again. We ended up doing about 6 dives, the biggest group we found being about 150 dolphins. After the dives and we had warmed up (which took a while!) we followed the dolphins again for pictures and were told that we had actually swam with 2 different species: the Dusky Dolphin and the odd Common Dolphin spattered about. We had a great time, floating on the surface with dolphins swimming around you was amazing.
The next day we had more fun on the sea. We went Whale watching off the coast. We saw loads more wildlife on the way out to sea, some Dusky Dolphins and a few Albatross, but it was the whales we came to see. Sperm Whales were the target and after a few stops when the captain listened with his underwater microphone, we eventually found one. They stay on the surface for a few minutes whilst they catch their breath (this one stayed up for a bit longer, probably because we had been chasing it for about half an hour and it was scared we had a harpoon) before diving down for about an hour. The first one we saw was called Little Nick, after he went down we continued on for a few minutes and another little fella popped up! This one was called Tiaki and was the dominant bull whale. After watching his whale tail disappear under the water we made our way back to shore.
And that is just about all we've done in Kaikoura, David Attenborough eat your heart out!
We've finished the South Island now, tomorrow we catch the ferry across to the North Island. First stop is the New Zealand capital, Wellington.