After a night out on the town saying goodbye to our Irish companions, we had to head out early this morning to get to Kaikoura.
This time though, Emily has joined us and will have to put up with the pair of us until we get to Auckland! But no matter - our merry band carried on and, slightly hungover, managed to avoid vomiting on the bus for our journey north. Kaikoura is a relatively small place, but provides unique scenery, mountains leading all the way to the coast - a great contrast for a particularly awesome photo! It is particularly famous for one thing - it's marine life. There is an exceptioptionally deep sea trench just out from the coast, and this allows creatures that would otherwise to be out at sea to come much closer to land - whales, seals and dolphins to name a few.
The latter was the focus of the day.
In life, apparently there are several things you should do before you die. I have never really thought about death much, and so this list as not really seemed particularly relevant - I have hopefully got a rather long life ahead of me, so there should be plenty of time to cross those things off. But when I begin to think about it, I think a fair few of those things have been accomplished on this leg of the journey, namely the skydive and the bungee jump.
Well, today achieved the thing that is frequently in peoples top 5 things to do before their time is up - swim with the dolphins. I don't think it is unfair to suggest that a fair chunk of people who do this in their life do so in an organised session, with trained dolphins in an enclosed pool.
We set out in full wetsuit gear and snorkels to the open sea to swim with wild dolphins. There was a chance we would find none. There was a chance we would leave just cold, dolphinless, left to watch the seagulls taunt us with their kawing. But this was not the case. Not twenty minutes into our voyage, we could see large splashes in the distance, and moments later we were upon a pod of over 200 dolphins frolicing in the water, playing in the splash of the boat. The moment came to don our snorkels and dive in, and were able to watch and get right up close to these amazing creatures.
To attract them we had to 'be dolphins' - swim with our hands by our sides and make ridiculous noises through our snorkel! but it was well worth it - there were so close we could have reached out and touched them. If you made eye contact with the, you could spin around in circles and they would follow you, playing some sort of strange game with you before being attracted to something else and flitting off. They were as interested in us as we were in them, us as much their plaything as they were ours. You can see why they are regarded as so intelligent just by looking in their eyes - it sounds strange but they seem to look at you knowingly - knowing what we are doing there, and what they can do entertain them and us.
Adrenalin rushes are one thing. This does not provide one of those. It does provide a type of excitement that I have never felt before - a vulnerabilty to these wild animals, whilst at the same time helping you feel so playful and childish you don't want to leave the.
But we had to, and after half an hour the trip was over and we had to head back.
But it is something that I will never forget. I don't want to leave this world any time soon obviously, but if I was to, at least I have managed to tick more boxes on my list than a lot of people ever get to.
(Oh, and we saw sperm whales and albatrosses too, but who wants to know about those???)