Several months ago, one of the girls from Ollie’s work who was also hurt in the quakes started a charity event where she ran a silent auction to raise money for the kids here whose families have been badly effected by the quakes. She helped send them to Auckland for a weekend where they got to go to Rainbow’s End and just enjoy themselves, which is something a lot of kids here haven’t really had the opportunity to do much of. Stress of losing loved ones, of losing their homes, their schools, their favourite places hasn’t been easy on anyone. She did an amazing job, especially because of the fact she had been in hospital for around six months and to learn how to walk again herself. One of the things on offer was a family trip to go whale watching in Kaikoura!
Ever since then, we’d been trying to get out there to actually GO whale watching, but the weather was just never right. It was always too rough on the seas, which was a little depressing. I have always wanted to see whales but was slowly giving up hope that we would ever get to see them. We called them up last Sunday morning to see if it might be possible, and they told us the weather looked promising, so we bundled into the car and off we went.
I love Kaikoura. It’s one of my favourite places in the South Island. It’s always slate grey and cold – even in summer, but the sea is turquoise and rough and almost everywhere you look there are seals sunning themselves on the rocks. It’s rugged and beautiful and the township is just far too cute for its own good. I love stopping there. I love that it smells like the sea and that nowhere in Kaikoura are you without a sea view.
Every time we pull in, I imagine having built a house with floor to ceiling windows against the side of the hills. Nestled in there, surrounded on three sides by trees and facing out to that amazing blue sea. It’s a writer’s paradise. Although to be fair, I’d probably get far less written there than I do right now, facing a blank wall. My degree used to be on it, but the earthquakes have made us take down most of our pictures. It’s just easier that way.
It was FREEZING! But not even that could dampen my mood. I don’t think Siobhan was ready for my exuberance. When we got there and the weather was still perfect, I was far too excited for my own good! We had spent two other days waiting in Kaikoura all day while they continued to tell us that the weather might be better later that day, then later again, then apologising when it just wasn’t going to happen, so to actually have fine weather and good seas? Bet your arse I was excited!
Seriously. I’m on a boat! My kids are cool as, man. Me? I’m on a boat. You all know the song.
Look at how ridiculously beautiful that child of mine is! No matter what we do, the both of them just continue to get more and more adult and stunning. Let’s not even talk about how tall they are. Yeah, EVERYONE is tall next to me, but I was sort of hoping that my girls wouldn’t betray me with their Amazonian willowy status and remain little girls forever. It’s not happening though, those beasts plan to tower over me by the time they finally stop growing.
Anyway, we went out on the sea in a super fast boat which took us over the shallows which dropped off into sea that went deeper than the Grand Canyon in a very short time. It’s a little strange to think of that much water underneath you when you can still see the shoreline. He said that the Grand Canyon would fit into the shelf below us twice. I haven’t seen the Grand Canyon yet, but I am assuming that’s an impressive amount of sea.
This is how you find whales. You insert a rod into the water and listen through your iPod headphones for them to start talking to one another. They do this as they’re coming back up to the surface. Did you know that whales can stay under the surface for up to 2 and a half hours before they need to come up for air? Did you also know that the sound they make when they stun their prey can turn your insides to liquids? Yeah…I did not know this.
Anyway, it didn’t take as long as I’d imagined before he heard a whale. We saw three in total, but the one below is the first one we saw. They’re all boys. Apparently the girls don’t come here often, it’s a boys only club. I don’t blame them. It’s COLD.
There he is! Look! The boat was full of tourists, and I swear I was still the most excited person onboard. Every time he blew water I celebrated his cleverness. I am lucky that I’m blessed with such an understanding family. I am sure I’m terribly embarrassing with my “OMG! LOOK! IT’S A WHALE! LOOK HE’S BREATHING!!!!! LOOK! HE’S SO CLEVER!”
The guys who run the trip know when a whale is getting ready to go back down again. It’s amazing, he talked us through it beautifully. It was a little like giving birth but without the pain. You sort of just hold your breath and blam! Awe inspiring beauty. Perfection. He was my very own creation and I was the only person on board who got to experience it. Shut up, the two of us were having a serious moment together right before he said goodbye to me forever. As soon as his tail came up like that? I cried.
I did. I admit it. It was so beautiful that I actually sobbed. “Did you…*sob* see that?” Apparently, everyone did, but no one else seemed moved to tears. No one who knows me will be surprised to hear this news though. After all, I cry at everything. It’s okay though, I wasn’t wearing mascara.
We also got to see an amazing array of seabirds, including Albatross! And, hundreds of amazing little dolphins, who were so precious and so thrilling. They zip under the boat and burst out of the water right in front of you. They threw themselves all around the place, and many of them did full 360’s! It was very impressive. Especially when they did it in pairs. Like synchronised swimmers but awesome.