Sperm Whales

February 13, 2019

Wednesday 13th February 

Back on the road South Island NZ

So…we have spent three days in Kaikoura (Kai means food koura means crayfish)

The weather has been fantabulous all day and everyday reaching nearly 30 degrees. It’s a pleasant heat though, for those of us on holiday. We have been camped on the same site all three days overlooking the quay. Alongside the pub….

The $20 (£10) isn’t much but all they supply is grass and water so. No toilets, no bins, no nuffink. So this morning we may have just snuck off without paying…….

Monday was a chilled day, laying on the beach and having a swim mostly. Beaches here are not what we are used to in Weston super Mare, or even Bournemouth! For the vast majority of the tens of thousands of beaches, no-one picks up the seaworthy or driftwood and no-one brushes nice straight lines onto the sand with a tractor. Damn lazy local authorities..! The beaches in Kaikoura have black (volcanic based) sand and are really scruffy looking, entry into the sea requires searching for gaps in rocks or finding sandier areas. The water is cold as mentioned, and often quite wild which suits the surfers and keeps us entertained watching people get bowled over on the way in. Think Trina did a spectacular entry but me and Michelle missed it…bugga..

There are however many bays with calmer water protected by natural harbours. 

Drama of the day was when Michelle was eating a healthy muesli meal and bit on a healthy pumpkin seed which broke her crown on the back tooth..(interestingly her left eye is now ok..! )

There is no pain but this is not good. Especially as Vietnam is coming up fast and no one wants to rely on a local dentist there..! We therefore spent some time getting authorisation from our HSBC insurers first then getting to a dentist. Phoned the only one in town…answer phone ‘we were open, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 2pm’ and there is no emergency option mentioned..! Small town this Kaikoura then. We visited Tuesday but the dentist couldn’t fit her in between fishing trips..!

So we decided to buy an emergency repair kit, more painkillers and rely on allowing time later in the week in Christchurch if necessary. Apparently this is a tooth with no root hence no pain, however an infections is not helpful so we will wait and see. 

Anyhow, a pint at the pub before dinner in Maureen the Maui Mercedes Motorhome.

Yesterday was the big day. The very top of the list of things for do here was to whale watch. A must do event, whatever the cost (except me who reckons whale watching is just like dolphin watching but with bigger flippers..!).

It was booked for 4.30 in the pm or so found a wonderful, Park Reserve, still in Kaikoura, where you can park on the grass, the beach, the stones, the tarmac…..or probably in the water, to oversee another glorious bay, with more blue, turquoise sea and more mountains behind. It is blooming beautiful.

I managed a couple of short snorkel adventures but it was not too exciting. Quite a few fish but only the eating kind, not the ‘nemo’ kind round these parts. Damn cold too.! 

Well…the whale watching experience was an absolute delight. We had a twin hulled, aerofoil assisted 50 seater boat which was whaley fast. The organisers were persistent in confirming that we could all deal with the heavy swells out at sea. Sick bags are available. Gulp.!

Well, we were so lucky, we saw 4 Sperm (yes, I know..) Whales, real close, bloody amazing. Two of them swam to meet each other from several miles apart. The crew of the ship were able to give us warning, before the whales lifted their tails and dived below the surface, leaving a magnificent tail-fin waving above the sea as a parting gift. I have carried my Fuji camera and long lens right round the world and not used it (the quality of the iPhone camera being so good (other makes are available)), but this proved to be invaluable. A great shot of the tail-fin dripping with wateras the whale dived below the surface. Unfortunately you will not be able to view this photo yet as it is stuck in my Fuji camera…and WiFi is scarce.

AND whilst the Sperms were dancing on the water there were dozens of Dusky Dolphins Dancing round them and our boat. I have to say it was well worth the NZ$150 (£80) each. Oh…and the swell. We wisely sat at the back, safe in the knowledge that this is where the boat bounces less. However we were not quite as smart as we thought…all the sick people were ushered to the back by the staff in order to throw up into their sick bags…. eeergh. It was a close run thing but we all survived with just squidgy tummies. Whales and Dolphins… loved them. I must point out that it wasn’t just a photo shoot, we had loads of time to just watch and enjoy these magnificent creatures strolling across the South Pacific. 

At this stage we planned on changing our camp site to another nearby. Recommended online for 20 motorhomes by the sea. Well when we turned up at 8.30 pm there must have been 80 motor homes, camper vans and cars there…. so back to our little grassland alongside the quay, the sea and the mountains….

So….here we are this morning back on the road and headed towards the Franz Josef glaciers and more. Two day drive with a stopover in Greymouth area. I am well jel as Michelle is driving through some amazing roads,with switchbacks and cliff tops through the mountains. I even had to stop blogging for a while to admire the view..and the driving! . Much as I love Michelle’s driving…I would have loved to drive those roads. Many more to come I suspect.

Laters..

Did you know…The Sperm Whale got its name because of the white oil carried within its head. Originally thought to be sperm and part of its reproductive organs…! 

Sperm Oil made this whale a prime target of the whale industry as it was sought for use in lamps, lubricants and candles.

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