Kaikoura Whale Watch

I had forgotten how close Kaikoura was to the Southern Alps until a recent trip. It was a beautiful drive heading south from Marlborough, complete with seals sunning themselves on the rocks alongside the highway.

After checking in at my motel and a brisk walk along the beach it was time for dinner. I decided to drive a couple of minutes up the road out of town to head towards Donegal House. This Irish pub’s fifteen dollar delicious roast dinner followed by chocolate mud cake was worthy of its recommendation by my helpful motel owner.

The following morning I drove to Kaikoura Whale Watch. It was perfect conditions for whale spotting and I was glad that I had pre-booked my ticket as there was a waiting list for the morning and early afternoon trip.

After the pre-departure briefing we were taken by bus to the wharf. The seats were comfortable and as we headed out to sea we received an explanation of what we were looking for. As our eyes skimmed the water to spot whale spray, we were told by staff that there was a pod of orcas nearby. This was really exciting news as I was hoping to see a whale and maybe some dolphins but I had not anticipated seeing orcas. We followed several of these beautiful, curious creatures as they took their turn to emerge and dive alongside the boat. With a clear sky and the Alps in the background it was a great experience.

After we had snapped many photos to catch the orcas at their best, the boat veered towards the deep sea canyon again where we would be likely to see male Sperm whale. It was not too long before a whale was spotted and we had plenty of opportunity to take a good look at it near the surface before it dived, giving us the chance to get one of our own tail shots.

As we headed back towards shore we had a good look at some Wandering Albatrosses, one of the biggest birds in the world. Another whale had been spotted so the boat took off with speed so we would catch a look at another whale before it dived and it was time to head back to shore.

As we drove back to town I regretted that I did not have time to drive to the peninsula because I had heard that mother and baby seals had been hanging around the car park the day before. This regret did not last long as I found on my way back north that it was the right time of the year to walk to the waterfall at Ohau Point. May is one of the months when baby seals make their way up from the beach to a waterfall to socialise with other pups. It was less than a ten minute walk to the waterfall and individual or small groups of seals could be seen almost the entire way. After a quick count at the actual waterfall, I estimated that there could have been around sixty pups flipping, diving and playing. They certainly were cute. I could have stayed longer, quietly watching them, but it was time to head home.

I left this beautiful area, reflecting that my family would love the experiences I’d had and wondering when they would be able to make it to this part of the country.