Kaikoura, Canterbury, New Zealand
23.10.2010 - 23.10.2010 15 °C
When the Magic bus driver introduced himself as ‘Disco’ this did nothing to ease my worries that I was about to join a club 18-30 style party bus! Thankfully, Disco turned out to be a pretty good chap and I didn’t need to worry. First two people I meet on the bus are Debbie and Katie, both from England and on long term travel/work away from home. We spent quite a bit of time together next couple of days, seemed to have a spooky amount in common and I realised right then that I had made the right decision joining a tour.
First overnight stop was Kaikoura on the North-East coast, famous for whale and dolphin watching. I fancied doing something a little different though so swimming with New Zealand fur seals it was! We donned these ridiculously thick and uncomfortable wet suits, as the water was beyond freezing, and were taken out on a boat North of the town. We found a good seal colony and in we got, come on in the water is lovely.... NOT! It takes about 1 minute for the wetsuit to work and you feel warmer apparently. My ass. For the next 2 hours or so that I was in the water I worried about when I have to take off the wetsuit afterwards that my nipples might come with it!!! Brrrrr...... On top of this, the sea was ROUGH, like big waves throwing us around, weed and rocks to fall against. This was all forgotten though when i glimpsed the first seal under the water, right in front of me, so graceful, whiskers twitching, big eyes looking straight at me awwwwww.
A couple of juvenile seals started chasing each other around us, playfully jumping out of the water circling us. This was so much fun.... I went nearer to a rocky area to look for more seals and got the fright of my life. The current was pushing me into some weeds and i was trying to move away from them in quite shallow water, didn’t see the HUGE male seal swim towards me. Some of the others were watching from the boat at this point and they could see everything. They could see that I hadn’t spotted the seal and he hadn’t seen me either! We collided, under the water, scared the hell out of me, he looked straight at me and grunted really deeply like to warn me off. As advised in our earlier safety briefing, i didn’t move, i didn’t want to appear threatening. The seal swam away, I surfaced to have a bit of a giggle, but then he came back for another look Yikes! Our guide suggested it was their mating season and he was checking me out!!! Well I am glad to provide the entertainment for the day! I loved every minute of the seal swim though and is apparently only one of a few places in the world where they let you do this..
Back to Kaikoura for a HOT shower, followed by a HOT sauna, followed by some HOT fish n chips and an evening walk around the town. One night in Kaikoura then time to move on to the next place on the ‘magical mystery tour’..