23.02.2017 - 23.02.2017
We had a fantastic day today in Kaikoura.
We had a 40 minute helicopter ride out about 15 miles off the coast in search of whales.
At our debriefing before we set out we learned of the changes to the area since the recent earthquake. What was once a vibrant town that most tourists passed through on their way from Christchurch to Nelson has become much quieter and efforts are being made to make it into a tourist resort as the passing traffic has disappeared since the road north closed.
Big changes have occurred also to marine life in the area.
Before the earthquake whales were to be found just a kilometre or so off the coast, but the difference in the ocean floor depth and the murky waters (it takes a long time for the deep water to still and become clear again) has lead to a change in the habits of the sea mammals.
The real changes on the ocean floor have yet to be confirmed.
For a few weeks after the earthquake the whales had vanished but over the following few weeks they gradually returned but are further out from the coastline.
The sperm whale is the one found in this area and these guys require very deep water of over 1000 metres to survive.
Today we travelled 13 km out from the coast and eventually spotted a sperm whale resting in the water. The sperm whale dive deep down and feed on fish, mostly giant squid for nine or ten hours at a time and then return to the surface to breath for about eight to ten minutes, so we were lucky to spot this guy as he rested on the surface huffing and blowing before he dived back down into to sea to continue his search for food.
A great trip.
Conor and I then took a small boat trip back out to the deep waters again this time in search of albatross.
It was a great trip though Conor felt a tad sea sick. We had a wonderful close up view of several species of albatross, sheerwater and petrel.
Even spotted a blue shark and a little blue penguin swimming about minding his own business.
Hot chocolate and ginger nut biscuits served by our captain as we watched these amazing elegant birds was just the ticket.
A very welcome barbecue, some cleaning and packing getting ready for leaving for the north island in the morning.
A game of scrabble and once again Conor proved too strong.
A great day and a brilliant trip to the South Island.