New Zealand - Kaikoura

The trip to Kaikoura was the only tour that I managed to book in Christchurch. Interested to do this because it involves whale watching. So that seems to be awesome. I was the first to be picked up and then just another block was this Thai lady, who's quite old, and she's travelling alone. She's a primary school teacher from Northern Thailand who's going to retire in 2 years time. She spoke quite a decent English and she was quite chatty, straight away engaging me in conversation. I was most impressed by her travelling alone! From conversation during lunch, I also found out she was staying in a hostel in that other block, in which she shared the room with other people, girls and boys! So she's not as high maintenance as me and I was just basically in awe of her. I asked her if there's a locker, but she said everyone just put their things in the room and the lockers are not free. I suppose there's really some sort of camaraderie among backpackers, but it's just not something that I can do. I think you have to be quite easy going, low maintenance, open, and social to be able to do this and I sadly have to say I am none of those. I wish I could be, but no, sorry. Anyway then it was an Indian family, mom and dad, and 2 young kids who live in Bangalore. Well when I saw them, I wondered if they do not live in India, so I gotta ask. I found out that we would be taking the same train the next day. Small group and I was thinking how I would really want a bigger group, just so I could just kinda disappear and not having to be social with this small group, but then I also realized I have to be grateful for these people because without whom again this tour would have been cancelled.

Anyway, so it was a drive up to Kaikoura. In the morning there was fog as we drove out of Christchurch which I thought was beautiful, unfortunately we cannot just stop and take pictures. I actually saw a dolphin jumped out during the drive through Goose Bay. Only one though and it happened really fast, but I thought it was pretty cool, kinda a good sign for the day. Upon reaching the whale tour place, I straight away took the motion sickness pill because I was afraid I would get seasick during the ride. That was a decision that kinda haunted me out upon knowing that we wouldn't get on the boat immediately. We had around 30 minutes plus before it's our turn and the boat ride would be like 2 hours plus. The pill should be taken half an hour before the journey and with me taking it earlier, I wonder if the effect would be gone when I was still in the boat. However there's nothing that I can do. I gave the other pill to the Thai lady because I had 1 left and she wasn't sure if she would be okay. It seemed she didn't take it because she wasn't feeling well in the boat. Anyway, I used our free time to take some pictures from the beach. I would consider the weather to be good though it was not that blue sky sunny type.

It was an empty beach with nothing really. I saw this group of white birds and I had some nice pictures of them. It annoys me greatly that I don't know what these birds are called. In general, if I don't know things, I get very annoyed with myself and since I cannot let it go, I googled my way into it. I think these are called red-billed gull. What do you think, am I correct?

So anyway, then it's time for the briefing where they give you the safety instruction. They also told us that the sea was a bit rough and if people are prone to motion sickness, they should sit in the back. The place actually sells motion sickness pill, so I don't know why people just didn't buy them. The sea was really rough, even I felt like my inside was tossed, but overall my motion sickness pill worked. It's weird that I get nervous with airplane turbulence when being tossed by waves actually had a bigger impact. Maybe because eventually you land on the water? It's weird, I should be more scared since I can't swim, so it's scary to fall into the ocean. Anyway, during the ride, people must stay inside the boat, and when the captain reached the place where they thought the whale was, we could get out. During this time, the captain used some kind of device which he put into the water to listen for the whale. I think if he could hear something, that means the whale was in the water, so if he couldn't listen to anything, that means the whale was nearby on the surface. Our first stop wasn't fruitful, so everyone went inside again. The boat made contacts with the other boat which left earlier and also with the planes above which were taking people whale watching through the air. It reached a point where there was a plane circling an area, and another plane came, and our boat sped through the location. It was madness. I felt like it's so inappropriate of us for chasing this whale. Anyway, when we reached this other location, I think it was our third stop, we were told that the whale had been in the surface for quite some time. I think they're in the surface for like 30-45 minutes and then they would go down for an hour or so, so our window for this whale was kinda small. We're told that the whale would be on our right, so off everyone went to the right of the boat. It was kinda easy for me to get out, because I was sitting somewhat on the front, and people were like feeling sick or old, so they moved slower than me. I am a really bad person in spotting something, for me everything was just like an infinite blue, but then I saw it. I saw a bit of its back and it's not like it's making a lot of splash so you could identify it easily, it was pretty calm, or perhaps I was just rather blind. Anyway, I spotted it and really before long, it dived down and so I only have very few pictures of its tail.

After that we actually tried to go to another location, following another tip off, but then we had to go back, so even though we stayed awhile there was nothing. We're told that we'll got a 40% refund because it seemed this trip wasn't a good one. That was good news for me, it was good enough for me to see something and to get some money back, it's awesome. I don't know how much this whale watching thing cost since I booked it from another tour as a day trip, but I got 45 NZD back, so for me all is good. I'm not sure what a good whale watching trip would be. They did say on average they see 1 - 2 whales. Maybe if you're lucky, you'll get to see the whale blow its hole. Either way, I wasn't that disappointed with this trip. I didn't get sea sick, in fact I kinda dozed off on the way back, which is weird because we were being tossed up and down. I think the med made me sleepy. Will I do this again? I don't think so. Again, I think it just feels like madness chasing the whales. If human celebrities who understand the reason why people are interested in them could be so pissed by reporters and paparazzi, can you imagine how these whales feel who perhaps are wondering why everyday they hear funny noises and get strange waves from the planes and boats. That being said, I have to say that I am that noble, that perhaps if I should do this again, I would try the plane. I guess that's perhaps the only way you can see the whole shape of the whale.

So anyway, after that was lunch. I was feeling hungry and because of the med I was not losing my appetite :) The Indian family was feeling sick, except for the dad, so I don't know what they did. The Thai lady decided to join me and that's when I found out more about her. Then it was a drive back. Our driver / guide, John, asked if we saw any seal. I actually saw one when the boat was moving, it was swimming and it was so cute. John said let's try to see some. Maybe because the weather was getting quite gray and cloudy, it wasn't easy to spot the seals, but he finally made a stop, where we saw quite a few. They're really just these blubbers lounging on the rocks, except for this one who actually made some movement :D Seriously though, they're pretty cute.

Last stop before Christchurch was a winery whose name I didn't take notice of. The rest of the people don't drink, so I was left alone to do the wine tasting. Awkward, but I thought be confident. The girl at the counter was pretty nice. The first I tried was a riesling, then a red wine, and another white. I forgot what the names were. I thought the whites were good, but I didn't quite enjoy the red. Since I'm not a drinker, my opinion doesn't carry any weight at all :D The girl said we could go outside if we want to see the vineyards. Me and the Thai lady went outside but didn't really go near the plants. This drive to Kaikoura was actually the only drive in New Zealand where I saw vineyards and it's always a nice thing to see vineyards, I guess I have a soft spot for them since my first ever visit in Tuscany. This is the first visit of any vineyard though to happen in autumn and the yellow leaves were nice.

We reached back not so late, and refund was waiting for me at YMCA, and I got to relax watching the latest episode of Survivor which I have been following. So overall, I thought it wasn't a bad day :) Not many pictures from this trip, but you can go here to see more.

:) eKa @ 9:20:00 PM •

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