Thursday, December 14, 2006

Taupo to Christchurch (17hour journey), Christchurch to Akaora (the dolphins!)

Okay, so I finally decided to get out of Taupo and see the south island.. I caught the bus leaving at 1:00am in a rather deserted bus terminal:

that LUMP is my bag. yes, admire it in its midnight glory. do you feel the power?

the bus was late, I was bored, and stuck outside in the cold :(

The bus took me down to Wellington, where I arrived at 630am, to catch the ferry that got me into Picton at around 11:00am, where i had to wait till 1 to catch my "shuttle" to christchurch. I slept most of this journey. 17hours of painful bussing and ferrying. But the view on the way down was gorgeous..

i still havent mastered photography out of a moving vehicle. Pooh.

Christchurch: Arrived at 7pm, and went to find a backpackers. The next morning at around 9:35 I wandered over to a travel agent and asked about dolphin swimming. There was a shuttle leaving for akaora at 10:00, and I was going to be on it. Mad dash, all my stuff together, and off we went.

The shuttle to Akaora was a lovely scenic drive with a nice man who did the tour telling us all the info. We stopped off at a beach filled with rocks that were the kind that if you polished them they'd shimmer, they were all smooth. You couldnt go into the water because the surf was so strong, but the waves crashing were quite a sight against the black stone beach..

driving along the canterbury country, it looked all "lord of the rings" and "narnia" to me.. lovely, you can see why they chose to film there. The hills almost reminded me of scotland, though these were obviously nicer!

We arrived to Akaora harbour village (a french settlement) at around noon, giving me half an hour to eat and wander before having to be at the docks at 1 to suit up and get ready for my dolphin swimming.

The day was the warmest so far in new zealand, and beautifully sunny..

Wish you were here..

Got on the boat with my wetsuit only halfway up, and went dolphin hunting..

It didnt take even 20 minutes before we spotted our first dolphin (hector dolphins, the smallest dolphin species in existance and native to New Zealand) who was feeding.
Eventually we spotted a few more who approached the boat and were curious, so we jumped in to hang out with them asap before they lost interest.

Gorgeous creatures, notable by their round "mickeymouse ear" dorsal fin..

there was only four of us, the water was freezing, and i was knocking two stones together underwater to get the dolphins' attention. It worked, because we ended up with about 14 dolphins at one point hanging all around us, swimming under our feet, coming up touching distance and then swimming past. It was amazing.

that's me and the dolphin.. well, one of the many. It was pretty euphoric, with the boat guides calling out to us 'on your left!', "turn around, they're behind you", "there's one right there, look!"
They were everywhere, and they just came up, swum in circles around us for a while, and left just as quickly.
We waited around for them, but they only came back when they saw us preparing to get out of the water. It seems they were playing hard to get and the mass movement attracted them.

The dolphins all of a sudden, all 14 of them, disappeared. We found out over the radio that there were killer whales hanging around nearbye. So we got out of the water, knowing we werent going to see any more hector dolphins with the orcas in such close proximity, and went hunting for them instead..

As luck would have it, there was a pod of at least 7 orcas, with a MASSIVE bull hanging about. You could see his dorsal fin from miles away!

The orcas seemed to be in a playful family outing mood, since they had a calf with them. They swam alongside our boat.. literally, right along side, could have reached out and touched them!

Camera always at the ready, i managed a few shots..

the little smiley thing with his head out of the water is junior, the calf.

Shuttle back and chilled in Christchurch.
The next day was spent doing absolutely NOTHING. I was feeling lazy and i needed to just relax.
Today I wanted to look into seeing the rest of the south island, but it looks like i wont make it back intime to catch my flights, not to mention running SERIOUSLY low on money (my credit card got declined today. how fun for everyone)

So i'm laying low here, tomorrow going to the natural thermal pools for a swim, and just waiting till my flight on the night of the 16th to Raratonga.


At 2:41 am, Blogger Anoop G said...

No updates for days ?

At 10:56 am, Blogger Anoop G said...

ur travel blogs were good!

it came to an abrupt end!

why no updates ?

At 12:23 pm, Blogger Anoop G said...

no closing comments on ur trip ???


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