South Island is absolutely stunning. There are so many things to do and see it is hard to decide what to visit first. Since I am staying at a farm near Blenheim on the Eastern Coast in Marlborough, I decided I had go whale watching in Kaikoura.
Blenheim is about an hour and half drive South to Kaikoura; the drive is beautiful, following along black sand beaches that are dotted with seals and beautiful mountain views. Kaikoura is renowned for its world-class whale watching. Surrounding Kaikoura is the Hikurangi Trench. The Hikurangi Trench is deep, at it’s deepest it is about 12,300 feet – over 2 miles deep. Due to its deep waters it is home year around 10 different kinds of whales, from the elusive Blue Whale (population in the wild around 12,000) to the friendly humpback. Kaikoura is also home to a variety of dolphins, seals, albatross and other beautiful and marine life that are completely unique to this region of New Zealand.
After doing some research I found Whale Watch Kaikoua. Highly rated, focused on preserving the local marine life and using eco friendly boats, and it also comes with an with 80% refund rate if you if you do not see whales; I was sold.
I was excited to see whales and I knew that Kaikoura was beautiful, what I was not prepared for was a coastal town that was surrounded by mountains. I felt like I was viewing the Swiss Alps, and when I looked to the sea I saw this incredible sea that no one shade of color could define it.
The folks at Whale Watch Kaikoura were incredible friendly, and as it happened we were in luck, there was a Blue Whale sighting earlier that morning. Blue Whales are endangered and extremely rare to see in the wild. They are the largest animal on planet earth, fully grown they are larger than a 737 airplane. The folks at Whale Watch were so excited for us. Blue Whales are only seen once in a blue moon (sorry for the pun), the lady at reception who had been working there for 20 years had only seen six in her entire time there.
With excitement and trepidation (and prayer that I wouldn’t get sea sick) I set off on a catamaran for a 3.5 hour whale watching expedition. Within the first 20 minutes, there it was! In the water, its black and blue back reflecting from emerald waves, a beautiful Blue Whale. I felt a rush, a thrill at seeing something so magnificent in the wild. I felt like a blessed guest in someone’s home; lucky that I could observe this Blue whale dive down for krill and plankton, to emerge and breath every twenty minutes. I love feeling like a privileged observer in nature, it reminds me of how we are all apart of this planet together.
I saw the Blue Whale numerous times that morning, and a special treat was a pod of Dusky Dolphins that were having fun playing by our boat. Smaller, and more distinctive in color than the standard dolphin, the Dusky dolphins reminded me of sprites in the water. Frisky, with a sense of humor they jumped up and down the water, watching them filled me with so much pure, unadulterated joy. The Dusky Dolphins reminded me to be full of joy and never forget to be in wonder.
In addition to fantastic marine life viewing, Kaikoura is a cute little town on its own, filled with great places selling tasty Crayfish and quaint little shops. it is a great place to spend a relaxing day. Make Kaikoura a must-see on your visit to New Zealand’s South Island!
– Till my next adventure- Jo