I should probably preface this post with a note that, title aside, I didn’t see any actual Whales in Kaikoura, despite quite a lot of frenzied staring out to sea. What I did see was a town that is somewhat obsessed by these creatures, and which shares it’s obsession with over a million visitors a year.
Kaikoura is, it has to be said, in one of the most picturesque locations you can imagine. It’s situated about a third of the way down the south island’s east coast, sandwiched between the massively jagged snow dusted mountains of the Kaikoura Ranges, and the sparkling seas of the Pacific.
The whale madness comes about because, well, there are a lot of whales here. This has something to do with the conditions being perfect, involving a deep ocean trench, upwelling of currents, and a large amount of tasty morsels for the whales to nibble on.
And it’s not just whales either. There is this whole food chain that exists around here, with dolphins, seals, sea birds and, well, more, that makes any visit to Kaikoura a memorable one.
As I said at the beginning of the post, despite some frenzied staring out to sea, whales were not on my visual agenda this time round. i did get up close and personal with some other marine life though, most notably a very large collection of seals, not to mention a plate of fish and chips.
The best place to find seals in Kaikoura is on the Kaikoura coastal walkway, a two hour jaunt which takes you around the Kaikoura headland. This juts out to sea (in the shape of a whales tail no less!) and provides excellent views of the surrounding, pretty spectacular, landscape. It also gets you right up close to a large number of seals, who do their very best to imitate rocks, and then get mightily upset when you tread on them.
There are some signs, pointing out that seals get terribly sad if you come closer than ten metres. The seals, unfortunately, have clearly not brushed up on their sign reading skills, as they seem to to their best to plant themselves in locations which force you to fall over them. And then they get sad about it. Seals are very good at looking mournful when you wake them up.
So that was Kaikoura. The drive to here from Christchurch, along the coast, is pretty darn spectacular. The drive from Kaikoura up to Blenheim, is just as spectacular. And from Blenheim, we took the road to Picton, hopped on the ferry, and said a rather sad farewell to the South island, which has been home to some of the most magnificent scenery I’ve ever been privileged enough to see.
Next – it’s across to Wellington and then up to the north of the north island, before our time in New Zealand draws to a close, and we head to new shores and further adventures. I’ll keep you posted on those, as the plans are, shall we say, somewhat fluid at the time of writing.