We woke up in Picton to another sunny day. We had tea in bed then had another on the bench outside the camper before finally packing up and heading for Kaikoura.
It started off in sunny weather then suddenly we were in the hills and the mist was there. Fabulous green rolling hills with a mist blanket. As soon as it was here it was gone and back to sunshine.
We wended our way through the hills like driving in the Yorkshire Dales.Over a brow round a corner then hey presto the sea. We continued along a coast road with a narrow gauge rail track following us.
150 kms and we arrived in Kaikoura. The whale watching capital of NZ.A 98% success rate. Whales or your money back it boasted.
We booked in to a Top 10 site. There is one in every place. A little more expensive than some but good plots and facilities. We have used them a lot so stuck with tried and tested. We went to our plot and Jill didn't like it so she went back to the office and said 'plot 11 please'. Plot 11 we got, wise move by the site staff. Dont want to piss off Jill !!
Lunch first sat outside the camper . Very nice, a sarnie and a cold beer.
Then we headed off to the whale watching company.Only a short walk. Money paid and we waited for the pick up bus.
It was only a short bus ride to the marina. 5 big motor launches awaited. We'd managed to get on the front of the bus so we first on the boat. We sat right at the front.
The engines fired up and off we went. Oh F*** this thing can motor. Throttles open and we are off to open sea bouncing over the waves. Wales have been spotted 7 miles out.
We are out in the Pacific overa 3000 metre deep ocean canyon.The boat slows the doors open and we go out on deck. Ahead we can see the spout of a whale blowing 20 feet in the air. 'Thar she blows'.
Except they are all male. The female whales very smartly stay in the warm water elsewhere. This is a feeding not a breeding area.
The Capt moves the boat forward. We are right at the front on deck as it bounces up and down through the waves. We would have paid for the boat ride alone !!!
Then we are alongside a Sperm whale. Its amazing. I know I know I know....Ive said it a million times but every bit is somehow better than the last. We are being buffeted by the waves, having to hold on to the rails. Below us is a whale. Yep a whale. It is moving slowly and serenely through the ocean. Unconcerned by us as it effortlessly cuts through the water. A sight I will never forget.
Every 20 seconds or so it blows water through its spout. It absorbs oxygen again and again getting ready to dive.
After 20 minutes it arches its back and dives. Hardly a ripple as it sinks down into the ocean. Its huge tail breaks from the water and rises into the air before following it 20 metre long body down to depths we can only dream of.
He wont surface for another 30 minutes or more.
The boat heads off to find another. Ahead another spout. We are soon on station to witness another leviathan of the deep. These are the most amazing creatures. So big and yet so graceful. I think my camera is going to explode.
I cant put into words how special this is. We just want to jump overboard and swim with them.
Nearly 2 hours at sea and we see 5 whales. As we head back to port a pod of Dusky dolphins join us. They are so fast. Buzzing the boat and leaping.
It has been the most stunning experience. The whales are creatures of such grace and power, but so gentle and serene. A truly memorable day.
Tomorrow is a long drive from here on the east coast right over to the west coast for some man made pleasures. Friday is hopefully black water rafting (thats through caves) and jet boating.