New Zealand’s South Island is packed with so many activities and scenic sights. From mountains, lakes, to adrenaline sports.. I didn’t even know where to begin. In addition to that, whale watching is one of the unique experiences in the world that NZ offers and I was super duper excited to be going for one. Giant Sperm Whales, here we come!
I booked and paid for our tour through Whale Watch Kaikoura. It costed me about SGD145 per pax. They guarantee 80% refund if we don’t see a whale on that day, too.
The coastal town of Kaikoura
Set against the backdrop of the Kaikoura ranges is the dreamy shores of a little coastal town famous for whale watching and seafood. Kaikoura is special because it is located right next to a continental shelf – just a few hundred metres off the coast is a sudden ~1,000m steep drop. The briefing session explained that whales don’t generally enjoy being in shallow waters because they love to dive real deep, which makes Kaikoura a perfect place to whale watch!
We booked for the 12.45pm tour. So we had to set off from Christchurch at about… 9am? It was risky business, because we needed to call in on the day to check on the weather conditions. We couldn’t get a solid confirmation but the person on the phone told us the boat is most likely to be sailing. So off we went!
It took us about 2.5 hours to get to Kaikoura from Christchurch. Thankfully, the conditions were perfect. They only announce the sailing confirmation about 45 mins before the actual scheduled time… I was so scared that it was going to be a no-go. Imagine the disappointment felt after an almost 3 hour drive. 😦
So we got briefed, took a bus and hopped on the boat. We were briefed again on the boat – usual safety stuff. Heard that it gets really rocky at times due to bad weather, and lots of people get crazy seasick onboard so it is advised to take motion sickness tablets! I know I did! I didn’t wanna take any chances!
The whale searching begins!
So we got some staff onboard the vessel who spots the whales with binoculars, and some who use the ‘hydrophones’ to listen to the whales underwater. That way, they can determine the direction and distance of the whales making the sound!
It was kinda cool watching them search for whales. The whole tour experience was like a game of musical chairs. One minute we’re asked to rush out to look at the whales, the next we’re asked to hurry back so we can speed to the next location of the another whale!!! It was soooooo crazy onboard whuuut! I genuinely pray for you to get graceful tourists to share this experience with, because I was being shoved around and that was slightly unpleasant, to say the least.
And we found our first one!!!
So cool to be able to witness the world’s largest toothed predator in its natural environment. I’m feeling very blessed! Remember your telephoto lenses guys!!!
After 3 whale sightings, we headed back and part of the detour was the dolphins!!! It was quite a magical experience – to be able to witness these playfully acrobatic dolphins jump out of the water, and swam along side our boat. There were hundreds of them around us and it was a non-stop action packed show, for at least a good half hour.
What an amazing experience. It felt so surreal to be surrounded by so many dancing dolphins constantly jumping in and out of the water, with some in sync.
After a good 2.5 hours out in the sea, it was time to head back. All I can say is, go whale watching if you have time in NZ. The thrill of an up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale is really something else.