Whale of a time

Tourist tours thrive in Kaikoura, a small coastal town with a huge variety of marine life to boast of – it was for this reason that I wanted to see whales, after being severely disappointed that the tours had been cancelled for a few days. With nothing else to do, the seal point at Point Kean became the regular hang-out to look at seals who were probably just as bewildered to see humans staring at them. Some looked hung-over after a delirious frolic, others looked apprehensive at the increasing number of visitor vehicles and all of them were plain smelly.




The snow-capped tops of the Kaikoura range came into view early this morning slightly after sunrise, peeking out majestically as much as they could underneath pockets of blue sky and thunderous grey cloud.

Excitement was palpable when I finally, finally signed up for the whale watch tour and we ventured out to a rough sea as though the world had been washed out and righted once more after days of heavy rain. Both macho men and skinny women fell miserably seasick clutching sickbags while the brave sea crew wore nothing but short-sleeved t-shirts and shorts. Whales and their tails and pods of friendly dolphins came by on this sighting (the latter did a bit of show-jumping), and I think I did not stop smiling for over 3 hours each time a fin came into view. Whale Watch – hilariously located on Whaleway – was absolutely brilliant; even the usually grumpy co-driver of mine looked a tad bit emotional and swore to stay off tuna after observing the delightful dusky dolphins.

Now that I’m in the wrong time zone, I’ve been watching Olympics repeats rather obsessively, discovering that the kiwis are so in love with sculls, only flicking randomly to other sports like a side concern, calculating the number of gold medals per number of people per country which is funny.



Juggling the Olympic obsession means, unfortunately, going out for shorter tramps in the “countryside”. Being constantly downwind of cow manure notwithstanding, Kaikoura does indeed offer fantastic coastal walks along the peninsula, particularly when the fading light hits the rolling hills against low-hanging stormy clouds. I started the walk off Point Kean yesterday, completing the other half of it down at South bay today.

How it is possible that a country so small can pack so much punch? I’m just swaying in dizziness with what it has to offer and thus far, I’ve met so many people (mostly hosts or proprietors who, being immigrants themselves probably think it’s the greatest country on earth – wait a minute, or maybe that woozy headache is just the remnants of finding stable footing on land after being on choppy waters for a while.


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