Thursday, May 20, 2010


The drive along the Kaikoura coast line is just stunning. We stopped off to visit the seals along the way.

Maori Tours

Due to unforeseen circumstance we didn't get to do this but it has been voted one of the best cultural activities in NZ.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Off the coastline of Kaikoura is a marine environment so rich in nutrients that it attracts some of the most magnificent creatures, including the Giant Sperm Whale that can grow up to 20 metres and weighs over 50 tons. These whales can be seen all year round making Kaikoura a Mecca for whale watching.

Offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale, Whale Watch Kaikoura is committed to providing not only a quality experience, but ensuring the long term sustainability of Kaikoura’s natural resources.

After having some lunch in the café on-site we all huddled in the briefing room to watch an interesting and educational video on Sperm Whales followed by a safety brief. After we were well informed of the dangers with whale watching we boarded the modern catamaran. This state-of-the-art vessel is equipped with engines that minimise underwater noise pollution, comfortable indoor seating and large outside decks, which are great for viewing and photo opportunities.

On our journey out to the whales Megan provided us with a very informative commentary on what makes the area such a perfect spot for whale spotting. In the background a large plasma screen displayed award-winning marine wildlife animations. She also informed us on the names of the whales that live near Kaikoura at various times of the year, which brought a more personal touch to the tour.

Once we were thought to be in the right area our captain Jamie listened out for the whales using a hydrophone. Then we were off again, until eventually we saw the plume of spray jet up several metres.

With cameras in hand, everyone ran out to the viewing decks with an excitement that is kept for truly wonderful moments. We all marvelled at the humongous sperm whale only 50 metres away, little did we know the best was still to come.

After watching the whale float on the surface for about 10 minutes before diving deep into the undersea canyon, we were off again searching for more whales. When I saw captain Jamie’s feet tapping with excitement and a large grin across Megan’s face I knew we were in for something special.

Anticipation building I was extremely excited for what ever awaited us. Without telling us what it was we were about to see, the cabin crew opened the doors and everyone rushed out onto the viewing deck. Every eye watching the surface, we all let out sighs of excitement as we saw the world’s largest dolphin, the Orca, come up for air. What a great ending to the tour!

A trip out to see the giants of the deep up close is a wonderful adventure for young and old alike. Whale Watch Tours have a 95% success rate. For more information please visit their website at:

Waterfront apartment

Located on Kaikoura’s pacific waterfront, Waterfront Apartments offer luxury one and two bedroom apartments with stunning sea and mountain views. These self-contained apartments

Mandy the owner and operator of Waterfront Apartments checked us in to a well-appointed spacious and modern 2 bedroom room. Mandy was a great host, extremely friendly and helpful. She organised the Whale Watch Tour as well as the dolphin encounter as we didn’t have anything planned for Kaikoura.

Our two bedroom unit featured a full kitchen, laundry facilities, 40 plus channels on Sky Digital, Wireless broadband, a private balcony and a luxurious spa bath. The room was very sleek, stylish and spacious offering magnificent views of the ocean.

Only a 10 minute stroll to the centre of town, this a fabulous place to stay while exploring all that Kaikoura has to offer.

For more information on rates and rooms please visit their website at:

Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura

By far the coolest, most majestic, awe-inspiring, gob smacking activity I have participated in during the whole three months in New Zealand. What a way to end my trip.

Not only is Kaikoura a Mecca for whale watching, it is a very popular destination for other marine wildlife including DOLPHINS. Dolphin Encounter tour is a viewing or swimming tour with the flamboyant and very sociable dusky dolphins.

The Waterfront Apartments is only 100 metres away from the Dolphin Encounter, which was great as it was an early rise for my dolphin swim. After we were given a wetsuit and our snorkel gear, we watched a safety brief before boarding the bus. The 5 minutes bus ride transported us to the modern catamaran, which has a cruise speed of about 22 knots and is specially designed for dolphin viewing.

Our narrator and host Malaina was such a character. She had us in fits of laughter from the get go. Her passion and vast knowledge for Kaikoura’s marine life was incredible.

After traveling for about 45 minutes and only encountering a pod of 4 dolphins, whom were not very interested in us at all, we thought that the chances of us swimming with dolphins were slim to none. As our spirits started to dim, Malaina told us to put the rest of our snorkel gear on as they had received word from Wings over Wales that there was a very large pod of dolphins.

As far as the eye could see, was a dark shadow in the ocean, white splashes on the surface and dolphin fins rising through the water. Jumping up and down with a huge smile on my face I couldn’t help but scream with excitement. There was honestly over 500 dolphins swimming towards our boat at great speeds- that was the first time I was nervous.

We all sat on the back of the boat eagerly waiting for the captain to signal that the propellers were off and it was safe for us to enter the water. As soon as the horn went off we all gently glided off the back of the boat.

It was honestly the most amazing experience to be surrounded by hundreds of these majestic creatures. Singing like crazy, I know I sounded like a complete dork to the observers on the boat, but the dolphins seemed to be enjoying my song. They came within millimeters, dancing with me and doing 360 degree turns as I tried to keep to the one tune. Everywhere I looked there was a dolphin. It was just incredible.

As if things couldn’t get much better, when I was resting on the back of the boat (it is really tiring trying to keep up with the dolphins) I saw two seals playing amongst the pod. I quickly put my mask and snorkel back on and dived into the water. They are just as playful as the dolphins just much faster and harder to keep up with.

When the horn sounded for us to board the boat, we all sighed with disappointment. However on board the vessel warm showers, hot chocolate and yummy biscuits awaited us. What an adventure!

For more information please visit their website at:

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