Seal and Dolphin swimming in Kaikoura, New Zealand
Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog, we’re now heading into South Island nearing the end of my New Zealand travels, don’t worry I still think there could be another five posts yet to come! Todays post is all about swimming with fur seals and dusky dolphins in Kaikoura in New Zealand but first let’s talk about the journey…
We last left off in Wellington, well from Wellington in the North Island we caught the Bluebridge ferry across to Picton in the South Island. We went with Bluebridge because we got a deal with our Escape camper van, I would have a google to see if there are any deals because there always normally is, also you need to book maybe a few weeks in advance.
Now the ferry crossing itself is notorious for being rough so please take travel sickness tablets! Luckily we went on a rather calm day but even still we felt a bit queasy… The journey is roughly 3 hours but the first and last hour is okay as you are sheltered in bays and fjords, it’s the hour in between you need to watch out for. I would also recommend sitting in the middle of the boat and outside if possible. The journey however is beautiful, the scenery when you come into the South Island is utterly breath taking.
You arrive into the South Island into a town called Picton, we stayed the night in a campsite there but soon headed off the next day to our next our next destination which was Kaikoura.
We booked the fur seal swim in Kaikoura a week before as we had seen it advertised in the Lonely Planet. We booked our trip with the company Seal Swim Kaikoura and it did not disappoint! Seal Swim Kaikoura provided you with everything you needed, you just need to bring along an underwater camera if you had one, swimsuit and towel etc. We had such a gorgeous day and once we were suited and booted we took a short bus journey to our boat and then a short boat ride over to the seals. There was maybe ten other people with us on the trip and we were split into two groups making it a very pleasant and relaxing experience for both us and the seals.
Seals are naturally inquisitive animals and you just kind of need to bob along and wait for them to come to you, we had such an amazing encounter with really minimal effort on our part! It was wonderful to see these creatures under the water, they are a lot speedier and graceful than they are on land! The trip cost us $120 each and was about 45 mins in the water but, this was plenty time as it was really cold but you’re so amazed by watching the seals that you don’t even realise how cold you are until you get out! Luckily the boat had a warm hose which felt incredible in your wetsuit, ha.
After enjoying the seal swim so much we saw that there was also a dolphin swim, now I have always wanted to swim with dolphins but, I am an avid animal lover and would never want to swim with one in captivity, which until now I thought was the only choice. So when I found out I could swim with them in the wild and it was completely on their terms I jumped at the chance. We went with the company, Dolphin Encounter which also offer albatross and whale watching tours. The price to swim with dolphins was slightly more at $180 but you can always, with both of the trips, be a spectator which is slightly less but I would highly recommend getting in the water with them.
I have to say swimming with the dusky dolphins in the wild has to be the best experience of my life, I cannot put into words how amazing it was. The dolphins were so inquisitive and playful and were coming right up to us and swimming around us, I’d have to say that it was a completely different experience from the seals which were a lot more calm. A lot of the dusky dolphins had calfs which was incredible to see and lovely to know that they did not feel threatened at all by us as the Mother’s would have never have come so close. You have to remember we are in the open ocean which means that they can swim off whenever they please which made it even more special.
The company had very strict conservation rules on how long we could stay in the water with the dolphins and abided to it, which was great. Again I think we were roughly 45 minutes in the water swimming with
two different pods and let me tell you there were hundreds! Even when you didn’t have your head in the water you could see them jumping, doing flips and playing in the wake of the boat. There is no way anyone could tell me that these animals are not highly intelligent, they were looking at us like we were humans in a zoo!
However, I have to mention that I do think we were very lucky in the fact that we found such a big pod and they were up for interacting with us, as sometimes I don’t think that is the case. I also need to mention that although this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life I was unfortunately sea sick even though I had taken tablets and I wasn’t the only one… The swell was pretty big on the day we went even though it was forecasted to be slight to moderate. I was also told that a lot of people do feel sick more with the dolphins rather than seals because you’re out in the open ocean where you can’t see the bottom or have no where to ‘ground’ yourself, also the dolphins can be very disorientating.
Apart from that if you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed this experience and honestly I wish I could do it everyday. If you are going to New Zealand this is a must do activity. If you haven’t already please check out my posts on: Wellington, Cape Palliser, Tongarriro, Craters of the Moon, Rotorua, Hobbiton, Piha, Coromandel, Waitomo Caves and Auckland.
Lots of love, Melissa x
Video credit – Sam Gill