Saturday, January 5, 2008

New Zealand Road Trip - December 13, 2007 (10)

December 13

This was one of our "alarm clock" mornings. We had a 09:30 reservation to keep in Kaikoura, which was still a bit of a drive down the highway. We arrived in plenty of time.


Kaikoura is a town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is located on State Highway 1 180 km north of Christchurch.

According to the 2001 census, the permanent resident population is 2,104, a 5% decrease since the 1996 census.


Kiakoura is known for whale watching, which needless to say is why we were there.

Kaikoura is about two and half hours north of Christchurch. Kaikoura boasts a number of tourist attractions including whale watching, dolphin swimming (yes, you can actually swim with the dolphins in certain seasons), seal swimming, trout and salmon fishing, and amazing coastal walks, all set under the magnificent Kaikoura ranges.

The whale watching, though, has to be the most spectacular activity in Kaikoura. Whale watch tours will take you right up to giant Sperm whales (which can be up to 20 meters long). Other whales that can be sighted included the Humpback Whale and the Orca. [from]

Again on this day the weather was less than ideal. As you will see in the following pix, it was overcast and the water in the bay was pretty choppy. What you can't see is that out on the open water the swells were high enough that the tour operator did not want to take its boats out, so our whale watching was cancelled. We checked back periodically to see if there was an improvement and whether we would be able to go out on a later sailing. Unfortunately, this did not happen, so this was our one disappointment of the trip.

As a proxy for whale watching pix, I found this short National Geographic video (2.5 minutes), which I recommend. We were to see sperm whales, but there are a number of species that hang out there. The video shows a few of them.

Since we were there, we spent some quality time on the main street of the town and went down to the fur seal colony at the opposite side of the bay. We didn't take town pix, but as usual, we get trigger happy when wildlife is around.

Variable Oyster Catcher.

Red Billed Gull.
If you look closely you can see some people in the distance. They were "swimming with the seals" - it didn't look too appealing on that day. It was a bit too cool for me. On the up side, the seals are always there and apparently weather isn't an issue so "swimming with the seals" is not cancelled when it is windy!

White Faced Heron.

Little Shag.
Park on Kaikoura's main street showing a wood sculpture and Norfolk Pine, which are common.

Unknown but pretty plant.

We left later in the afternoon when it became clear that we wouldn't be whale watching and drove to Picton.

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