Posted by: John McGerr | February 4, 2009


Kaikoura is a small town northeast of Christchurch. We travelled here on our second day to go whale watching.  Ultimately, for me, this was disappointing as I got terribly seasick.  It wasn’t quite what I’d expected as I thought it might be something like the Barrier Reef, a platform from which the whales could be observed. What it did involve was a high speed chase. We would go to a location and they would lower this tracking device(sonar?) into the water, pick up the track of a whale, then chase off after it. As these mammals can swim at 40 knots our boat was really travelling – when it hit waves it would come off the water, then slap back down again. I have been on boats before and since and I never experienced anything like it. And they did deliver, four whales, but after the first I, like most of the passengers, was indoors being sick. I got some video footage but missed the classic ‘tail in the air’ shot that you can see everywhere. It wasn’t exaclty David Attenborough stuff, but it’s the closest I will ever get to a live whale. Back on land we visited a vineyard, no vines growing, just rows of sticks supporting new plants. I did not sample the local wine as my stomach was still out on the ocean. After the vineyard it was onto the seal colony. A group of seals, sitting on the rocks while the tide was out, obviously used to people looking at them as they showed no alarm at our presence. On the way back to Christchurch the bus broke down and the driver had to send for help, which took quite a while, but we got back to Christchurch and had a meal out with the Wilkinsons. It wasn’t the most perfect of days, but I was glad I’d tried it all anyway.



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