Friday: The most magical day 🦄
Today I swam with dolphins!
And by swam, I mean I kicked a bit but largely floated around tentatively poking my head under the water when they swam near to me.
You see, I wrote on my form that I have ‘a slight fear of open water, based on nothing’ (eg no previous bad experiences). I can’t quite put my finger on where the fear comes from, but in early blog posts, you may recall me saying: ‘water sports are definitely not my thing’.
But seeing dolphins in the wild, and even better, swimming around them has been on my NZ bucket list for a while.
When the opportunity came up yesterday, I questioned whether I should go dolphin watching or swimming. I even considered signing up to watch, and if that went well, going swimming the next day. Looking back, I’m so glad I stuck with my decision to go swimming. I will never regret this but I know if I hadn’t tried, I would’ve regretted it and would’ve been annoyed at myself for being so scared.
I swam two out of a possible three times, with dolphins swimming right around me both times. At this point, I feel I should also mention: I was the only person on my boat to have never snorkelled before. Getting used to having the mask on my face and only breathing through my mouth was strange, but again, I’m glad I tried it.
These beautiful marine creatures were smaller than I expected, these were dusky Dolphins (2m), and I was surprised at their size because Hector’s Dolphins are actually the smallest (1.3 m). On the boat ride out, we also saw several varieties of albatross which was really cool! One of them landed on the water so I got to watch him dangling his legs hopelessly trying to find a nice spot of water to perch on.
Marine wildlife can live in Kaikoura all year round, despite being migratory creatures, because there are huge underwater canyons just out to sea. Some of them have a depth of up to 2000 metres!
Anyone who has been following my kiwi experience posts will notice that I don’t often comment on my accommodation. There isn’t really a specific reason for this. I don’t intentionally not say where I’m staying, it’s just, when you’re on the kiwi bus the accommodation is pretty standard. But in Kaikoura, I feel compelled to say something.
I’m staying at Topspot Backpackers. And while I’m only staying two nights in this sleepy town, I could stay here a week. At least. This is the kind of place I could see my woofing and chilling out. I wouldn’t do that much here I don’t think but I know it’d be awesome. Relaxed. Calming and amongst a good group.
It’s 12.16 and I’ve headed out to go whale watching. When I arrived it said ‘pending’ for the trip I’m booked on to. Pending?! What does that mean?! Well, it means we’re waiting to see what the captain says. He said we’re sailing but there’s a strong seasickness warning.
At this point, I would just like to interject here (like I’m interrupting myself). I have been on multiple ferries, including one to Ireland during which the girl I was with turned green. I have sailed for a week around Croatia on a yacht. I have taken several bumpy sea journeys where lots of people around me are sick. And yet, I was not.
That was, of course, until this morning after I’d finished my dolphin swim. So as a precaution, and so that I enjoy this trip to the fullest, I’ve bought one of the sea sickness capsules they sell at the whale watching centre. It’s 100% natural ingredients and as I mentioned, it’s just precautionary, hopefully it’ll be fine!
En route to the centre I bumped into the Welsh couple and they said they saw whales, dusky Dolphins and bottle nosed Dolphins so I’m pretty excited for this! Even if I’m not feeling great, I want to see these magnificent creatures with my own eyes, I want to get that excited feeling I know I’m going to get in my tummy, the little squeaks, squeals and ‘oooooo’s’ like a small child.
They’re the 4th largest of 81 species!
Kaikoura is a feeding ground, not a breeding ground. The water is too cold for females and breeding so only males are found around here. Sperm whales have an average dive time out here of 45-60 minutes because the water is so deep. Did you know: They spend 80% of their lives in total darkness!
When the Sperm Whales surface, it’s only for 5-10 minutes so I’m feeling extremely privileged and lucky to have seen one!
Kaikoura is the sea bird capital of the world – 75% of all sea birds can be found here!
Now we’ve stopped next to a pod of Pilot whales and bottle nose Dolphins and dusky Dolphins!
My head is empty except for thoughts of whales and dolphins. Are they friends? Do they cohabit together? Do they swim around in a group for protection?!
I’ve had the most magical day today.
Although I’m heading back to the North Island tomorrow to begin the last leg of my kiwi experience trip, I almost feel like I’ve done everything I wanted to do here. I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far, and honestly, I wish I was staying in Kaikoura longer.