Saturday, February 19, 2011

No whales but loads of dolphins!

So, today we took a trip down the coast to Kaikoura, where we had a Whale watching trip booked. On the way we stopped at a seal colony that lives on some rocks just by the main road that leads down the coast. It was nice to see so many seals just vegging out on the rocks, swimming in the sea and generally loving life on the New Zealand coast. It was then onto Kiakoura where we had a spot of lunch and then took a walk up towards the whale watching company. However, when we arrived we were disappointed to see that the trip we were booked on had been cancelled as the wind had whipped up the ocean and it was too rough to take the boats out. We quickly rang Vinnie the bus driver/tour guide and he drove over to pick us up. Instead of the whale watching we took an hours walk along the coast taking in the scenery. It was a pleasant enough walk and when we arrived at the end we saw Vinnie coming out of the sea with a spear and the one fish that he had caught.

After the walk we drove another few miles along the coast until we reached a lovely little camp site where we are staying for the night. A few people volunteered to cook dinner and an hour later we were tucking into a great fish curry, which wasn’t too hot, but was very tasty.

After dinner we had a laugh at the best bits of Team America and then most people had a really mellow night, as we are all up at 4am in the morning for another boat trip -this time its Dolphin watching and swimming.

After a good but short nights sleep, me and Rich were up just after 4.20am and started to tear down the tent. It was a lovely morning and we quickly had the tent packed away and after a bit of cereal for breakfast, the 14 people who were due to go on the dolphin experience were ready to go, when the bus picked up up. After a short bus journey we arrived at the tour centre where the swimmers were issued with wetsuits and snorkel gear and the watchers, of which I was one were ushered into a side room, where after being joined by the now wet-suited swimmers, we were given a briefing about the day ahead. Basically, the swimmers jump gently into the water and swim in circles looking like a dolphin and making dolphin noises.

After the brief, it was then back onto the bus, a 10 minute drive to the boats and then off out into the ocean. It was pretty rough and it didn’t take long for a couple of people to start feeling seasick. The first spotting of the day was a massive Wandering Albatross that flew majestically along above the surf behind the boat.

We continued on and after about 20 minutes we spotted a pod of dolphins. The next hour or so was spent with the swimmers, sliding into the water off the back of the boat and being surrounded by the dolphins, who jumped, somersaulted and swam all around the swimmers, who loved every minute. A couple of people struggled with the waves and had to come back aboard the boat for a rest, but most people stuck it out and got their moneys worth. We moved a couple of times as the dolphins moved too, but it was all part if the fun – even when one of our group got a little lost and ended up swimming to the wrong boat!

After a while the swimmers got back aboard the boat and changed back into their warm dry clothes before we were all give one last chance to take photos of the dolphins before we headed back to shore.

Once on dry land we met back up with our bus and started today’s journey. Most of the morning was spent sleeping and resting before a stop in Christchurch for a spot of lunch and a couple of beers with Waheed and Rich. Then another couple of hours travelling, during which time we met our new bus mates who had joined us in Christchurch -Two dans and three new girls, whose names I cant remember yet!!

We then finally arrived at our stop for the night in the Rangitata gorge. We are in a nice little camp site by the river, but as it was raining when we arrived I took the sensible option and claimed a bed for the night in the dorm room at the cost of $14nz -about £7 – well worth the money, so as not to get cold and wet outside -especially as for the next two nights we are in bush camping sites with no facilities except for a drop toilet!!

The evening at the lodge was great. It was Brandons 26th birthday, so as well as a good BBQ dinner we had cake too – I took my time to drink a bottle of red wine and as it got darker and colder we all snuggled up on the sofas outside to keep warm.

Most people went to bed about midnight and after a shower I did the same – getting a really good nights sleep on my 3rd level bunk-bed.

In the morning I was up bright and early – checked the football scores and saw that Man United had struggled but beaten the mighty Crawley, whilst Chelsea had been knocked out of the FA Cup by Everton – a good start to the day. I had a bit of breakfast and a chat to the new bussers, whose names I still cant remember, then packed my gear up. At the moment I’m sat in the corridor with all my electronic stuff plugged in and charging up – As I said before we are in Bush-camps for the next 2 nights and we will have no facilities, electricity or Internet – Sounds good to me!! I will update this in a few days time!!

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