Day 68/72: SUCH A GOOD DAYJanuary 3 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C
What an incredible day. Against many odds we managed to do the 2 last things on our list of wild activities. It was the grand finale for our massive travelling adventure, and we saw it out in style.
The issue being described previously, we woke at 0145 on Thursday morning. The stars were some of the greatest we have ever seen, and after seeing some shooting stars, we set off on the 4 hour journey back down South. We were heading for Activity 1, swimming with dolphins! We didn't know the date of this activity, but on the off chance it was today, drove down. The drive was peaceful and the sun rose as we went on our way. We arrived, and after a short nap, walked to the centre to find that we had booked the activity for the following day. All hope was not lost though, and we waited in anticipation (watching a Ray swim lazily along the harbour wall) to see if anyone would cancel at this hour in the morning (0620). Then, a stroke of luck! The lady at the desk took pity on us and handed us the golden tickets (orange wristbands) of glory that let us through the arches (door) into the changing rooms! We couldn't have moved quicker and soon we were wetsuited up and ready to go.
We got into the little boat with 8 others and headed out into the harbour in search of the dolphins. We were in search of the Hector's Dolphin, the rarest and smallest sea dolphin in the world (about 1m in length). As they're all completely wild, we were relying on the dolphins playful nature and pure curiosity of us to see them.
This paid off though, and we saw them, their little dorsal fins breaking and then going under the surface of the water. It was brilliant to see, and after a few sightings of dolphins that weren't interested in the boat we came across a couple that were more enthusiastic. We got into the water and bobbed around in the thick wetsuits. The dolphins came up to us and swam right by us! It was very exciting but they seemed intent on breakfast so we turned to get back in the boat and try again. But then, a little figure pops out the water just in front of us and a blue penguin swims by, just starting his day of fishing!
We then went on and for a while just watched and looked out for dolphins, until the time came for us to get back in the water! This was brilliant, as the Dolphins came right up next to us and were swimming underneath us and everything! It was so exciting, there must have been about 8 of them! We did that for as long as it took the Dolphins to get bored of us and then got back in the boat, had some hot chocolate and headed back to shore.
We then went off to Activity 2, whale watching! Whilst we had been swimming, we'd had our wait list slot confirmed so needed to get back to the place we'd left earlier that morning by 1315. The arrival time said 1321 so we set off and headed up north again, arriving just on time!
The whale watching was incredible. After a brief, we got on the boat and headed out to the sea. The water depth drops suddenly to about 1100m which is where the whales like to dive. We saw ospreys and Dolphins along the way, and the spout of a sey whale which is really rare for this area! We got told different bits of info as the boat trip went on which was great, and we waited for the Sperm whale that was in the area to resurface so we could see it.
It was amazing to see. The whale resurfaced and the boat went over to a respectable distance away so we could watch him breathe. Sperm whales spend about 5-10 minutes on the surface before diving back down, so we got to bask in it's magnificence before it took its last breath, and slowly dived, his tail coming in an arc out of the water and then dropping beneath the surface. It was brilliant to watch, such a special experience.
We then drove all the way back down to Christchurch, powered by fish and chips. We knew the next day was just going to be one of packing up and relaxing, so it was better to do all the driving in one day. We got to the campsite at about 8 and found a nice spot in the corner of the field, and settled into our penultimate night in the campervan.Read more