Day 9 – Springs and Dolphins
Today we left Leithfield Beach and headed north towards our destination of Kaikoura. As this was such a short distance and left us plenty of time, we decided to detour to Hanmer Springs. We considered going to the Spa here and making a day of it, however decided that we would rather have a spa day later on in our trip in Rotorua after our big Tongariro Crossing walk, and when we really deserve it. And so in Hanmer Springs, we simply took a leisurely stroll around the village, stopping for coffee, and then a gentle hike through the Hanmer Forest Park.
Back into the van and on to Kaikoura, where after another great drive up through the rolling farming hills, we arrived that afternoon at a very pleasant camp site (Kaikoura Peketa Beach) right next to the seashore, where as we pulled into our spot, could see a pod of dolphins swimming close by. This is such a nice spot to camp and lovely staff, so I would recommend here to anyone planning on stopping in Kaikoura.
Day 10 – No whale watching, trippy kwells, and baby seals.
So today didn’t start quite as planned. We had arrange to go whale watching at 10am and so had got ourselves up early to be at the whale watching office in time for the boats departure. The weather was perfect (or so we thought). Blue skies, a gentle breeze, and no forecast of rain until the afternoon. Well what we hadn’t realised was that the rain was more of a storm than just a shower. So unfortunately Captain said no and we were all told the trip was cancelled. Boo hoo no whales for us! But wait not all was lost. Alice had read up about a local seal colony that around this time of year, can be spotted just outside of Kaikoura. And so we decided to check it out and hoped we would have better luck with the seals.
I haven’t explained the ‘trippy kwells’ yet though. So let me explain. So about two minutes before we were told the bad news of the cancelled boat trip, Alice and I had just popped a seasickness tablet, preparing ourselves for the choppy sea. On finding out we were no longer actually leaving dry land, we assumed the tablet would have no effect and so soon forgot. It wasn’t until we started driving that Alice commented on her weird eyes and giddiness. When I started to get similar symptoms we put two and two together and realised it was the seasickness tablets. After a short drive we arrived at the seal walk and jumped out the van for some fresh air. Honestly the next 30 minutes could easily have been a dream if it had not been caught on camera. We were both feeling so drunk-like and giddy, seeing a bunch of baby seals jumping around in a stream could easily have been part of some weird trip. Anyway it was real and here is the proof…
^^ This big seal was just chilling on a rock at the side of the road. Thought it was only polite to take some photographs ^^
^^ Baby seal ^^
^^ These were the first we came across, so spent a while watching them flip around. Little did we know there were dozens more just upstream ^^
^^ They were just so inquisitive and playful. Watching them leap and flip out of the water was really cool to see ^^
We had expected to see a couple of seals from afar, however we weren’t expecting to get so close and see quite so many! The babies/teenagers stay here in these warm streams, practising their swimming and socialising skills until they are old enough to leave the safety of the land for the open sea.
^^ These three were off into the woods, up to no good ^^
^^ Cheesssseee ^^
^^ So many seals! ^^
^^ This one was so interested in Alice ^^
^^ Hmm maybe not so sure in this one ^^
After the seals we carried on our journey North, feeling much better after the fresh air and with the help of some dark sunglasses the effects of the Kwells tablets started to subside.
^^ Past the black sands of Kaikoura ^^
^^ And into the Marlborough region with vineyard after vineyard ^^
Here at Motueka now, getting an early night so as to start our long walk through the Abel Tasman National Park tomorrow bright and early.