Kaikoura is well known for whale watching. They have migratory as well as resident whales making it an ideal location year round. There is a deep trench very close to the coast where the whales go diving for food.
That’s where the tour operator took us. They have several (fast) boats, all equipped with listening devices to make out where the whale has surfaced. Soon enough we were racing to the detected location. Marielle had never been whale watching before, so she was very excited. It is pretty cool watching such an enormous animal from up close and even better when they show their tail once they are going back down. My highlight of that tour was not the whale but the Hector’s dolphins close to the shore. Of course I have seen dolphins before in Australia, but these ones here were much more playful and jumped out of the water.
Further north, in the Marlborough Sounds, we went out for another day of kayaking while my parents hiked part of the Queen Charlotte Track. We paddled to a small peninsula, which is supposed to be a bird sanctuary. The pest and predator proof fence, keeping possums, rats, goats and other unwanted animals out, has only been errected last year. The birds still need to recognize it as a safe place as there were not many around. The dolphins that live in the Sounds didn’t show up either, but it was still a great day out on the water.
The next day we took the ferry back to the north island. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to spend another night in Wellington, so we just had a quick look at this great city. This time the weather was also quite nice so that we could enjoy a short walk along the artsy Cuba Street on our way to Te Papa.
Te Papa is a national museum for nearly everything. It’s very large and impossible to visit in one day, let alone one hour that we had. So we picked the “Awesome forces” exhibition on volcanos, earthquakes and other natural forces. They even had a tiny house to experience an earthquake (scale 1:50). We also had a glance at “Mountains to sea”, where they have a colossal squid (5m), which is believed to be only half the size of a fully grown animal.