15 February 2014
From Picton via Ohau Point
to Hanmer Springs
At 7:00 am went our alarm clock. That's pretty early, but since we had chosen for a quiet day yesterday, we now need to leave a little earlier. The plan was initially that we would go to Kaikoura yesterday after the mail boat cruise and stay there for the night. Later, we have chosen for a trip-free day; which is also nice. We leave the Holiday Park in Picton where we stayed therefore two nights and driving around 8:00 via Picton Harbour towards Kaikoura. It is quite cloudy and near Blenheim it even begins to rain. We see our tour already falling into the water. After Blenheim we pass many wine-growing plantations and we encounter, while it is still raining, the east coast. The now familiar road winds along the ocean. The road and the rail alternate who is closest to the ocean. At Ohau Point we stop to see and watch the seal colony that is located there on the rocks. There are always between 60 and 100 seals over there and often with baby seals. It's always nice to be here planning a 10-15 minute stop and enjoy the natural world from this close.
Clouds and rain alternate with each other when we leave Ohau Point at 10.00 am and drive towards Kaikoura again. By the time we arrive in Kaikoura at 10.45 am it is dry, but it is still completely cloudy, but above sea the air is a bit breaking with small blue parts. We park the campervan on a parking lot and pack our backpack and check again the video and cameras. This time also, the Canon EOS because it can repeat at a high speed so I can take a lot of photos in rapid succession. We pull the door behind us and go toward the Activity Centre of the Whale Watching. We are 150 meters away when we hear the alarm go off. Karin decides to run back and open and close all the doors one time and then again lock the campervan. Thus it is not funny anymore. Karin and I walk the last stretch to the Whale Watch visitors centre with "closed" ears. Thankfully I had already booked and on the marquee where all sailings are named is the text behind our departure "continues", and with an extra well known text "seasickness warning"; therefore we are warned again that there is a reasonable chance of seasickness for those who have this problem quickly. As I have.
Video Ohau Point Seal Colony
In the Activity Centre of Whale Watching is a briefing room where in advance a number of issues regarding the tour are told. Among others about safety, the boats and the sea creatures that we can expect to see. The assembly is in the Activity Centre in the north of Kaikoura and the boats leave in a bay on the south side of Kaikoura. It is therefore necessary that you brought there by bus. This all has to do with the fact that there is a fairly large Maori community located in South Bay where the boats are launched. If there are hundreds of tourists driving around every day looking for a parking lot then they have there a major disruption. They have thus solved with one coach per boat and that seems to work. Arrived at the boat, a catamaran, we are met by a someone of the crew who does this as a kind of working holiday. The nice thing is that her father is present in the group with us. She gives us at the quay some final instructions and asks who is seasick quickly. I hold out my hand in good faith and should therefore sit at the back, where the catamarans are the most stable.
Video Whale Watching Kaikoura
Our catamaran leaves the harbour and once on the open sea he gives gas for more speed. There is a "nice" swell and so the boat also goes quite up and down. As long as we sail, there is little to worry about.
The movements of the boat are predictable and you can be aware as long as the boat goes right up against the waves.
The boat departs at 11:55 am from South Bay and we sail to a place where one has to be expected to come above water. This they know - roughly - because there are already have been earlier boats that day, and also because they uses helicopters and light aircraft to spot them. Meanwhile, we see less and less clouds and more pieces of blue in the sky. After about a half hour sail we are in the area where the whale has to come to the surface. For now we only see a Albatross near our boat bobbing in the sea. From now on we wait and watch for the appearance of the Sperm Whale that was identified earlier that day. The boat is stationary, and now has become a plaything of the waves. The senses in my body already giving signals that I recognize from the last time I was on whale watching tours. One minute you can see the ocean and two seconds later the sky and not just up and down, but with rotating corkscrew style movements.
And suddenly there he is, Karin her first whale. He comes above and squirt again and again his air through the famous hole in the head. The sound is also very recognizable (from films and documentaries).
The other boat, which had left half an hour earlier also comes rushing to the scene. Karin films and thoroughly enjoying it all and she walks around the catamaran with a wide beaming smile of excitement. I love it that Karin is so enjoying it all ......... I quickly make some series of photos. After 3 minutes, the whale is already up for it and is going to dive. We are warned in time by the staff so that everyone with cameras at hand is ready for the moment. Always beautiful to see the tail going straight up before he disappeared, and dives to the depths of the ocean. 11 minutes later we see the 2nd whale and we'll be there again as first boat. We float and sail pretty close to this magnificent specimen of nature and we can see it from both sides and at the proper time from the back. Also this whale decides to dive already after 4 minutes. Again I make beautiful pictures of the whale.
Because I had already assumed in advance that this time I would be pretty seasick again, I had made the decision to eat nothing;
Indeed, if there is nothing in your stomach, nothing comes out. I can tell you now that that's true BUT I did get seasick and I had to vomit. With the special Whale Watch paper bag before my mouth, I was constantly vomiting but nothing came out.
Indeed, there was nothing in my stomach.
Actually that hurt more than the normal salvation ... if there is anything to get rid of. In short, not eating is already not a good solution. After this "event" the boat was already moving with great speed over the ocean.
There would be identified another Spermwhale for us.
More than 40 minutes later we arrive at our 3rd whale of that afternoon. Of this one we have more time to enjoy. It remains wonderful to be able to sail so close to one of the largest animals on our planet and see it in their natural environment If this one dives after 6 minutes of being on the surface, the catamaran is returning to our starting point the port in South Bay. On the way back we pass some Hector dolphins before we dock at South Bay with a clear blue sky by now. We get on the bus and its about 14.30 pm when we're back at the Visitors Centre of Whale Watch Kaikoura.
After this 3-hour excursion I make a few pictures of the bay that is now lying in the full sun and we find our campervan again. We drive through the town of Kaikoura to the Kaikoura Peninsula. At the end of this road, we place our campervan at the last available parking lot.
Video Seals Kaikoura
We walk to the waterfront and see there are two large seals enjoying the sun. There are many people around, and I can approach one seal within about 5 meters without problems for some nice photo's.
Today it shows again that wildlife in New Zealand is just for your feet. After about 5 minutes we turned around and looked towards the ultimate goal of the rock above us, the Kaikoura Viewpoint.
We see the steep path up and look at each other ..... we leave this for the next time. Besides, I was not sure whether you could come above via another route for example by car.
We look at our clock and we decide to leave for our destination of today Hanmer Springs. We see while driving away a well known New Zealand natural phenomenon that I capture by making some pictures of it. Mountains where you can see the lower part and the upper part with in between The Long White Cloud. We drive along South Bay again and continue taking a few kilometers later the exit of Highway 70 towards Waiau.
It is a quiet road with very little traffic and Karin suggests that this is possible a beautiful part for her to drive. Sooner said than done; therefore changing places and Karin start driving.
From Karin's Weblog:
"The road was very quiet and right so I decided once again to sit behind the wheel and drive a part. Well how wrong can you be, I was just driving a few hundred metres when the first mountains appeared and the road became very small en was bending a lot. I'm pretty good driver though I say it myself, but now on the left lane and those sharp turns, I felt like a beginner. So I was not really relaxed and Jaap wasn't relaxed either. After yet more hairpins and a deep ravine next to me, I thought it was enough for this time and gave the wheel with pleasure back to Jaap ".
Yes, it was a real shame; Karin sat down and after 600 meters the road went to the right, and immediately became very narrow and we were climbing and descending with many hairpin bends and deep ravines. In Waiau we have a short stopover with a nice TipTop and then the last part to Hanmer Springs.
A kilometer or 5 before the village of Hanmer Springs you have to cross the Waiau Ferry Bridge over the Waiau River. A single bridge and - basically - the only access to Hanmer Springs. Arriving at the Hanmer Springs Top 10 Holiday Park first booked our place for the night and then immediately drove to the famous hotpools to pamper ourselves. It was really lovely, the pools were 33 degrees to 39 degrees! Beautiful views of the mountains around us and the sun that went down. Later after our bathing I picked up my camera, and made a few nice ambience pictures. The staff wanted to know the address of my website because they also wanted to see the pictures later. Then in the village we had a nice pizza dinner at a small café and done some shopping. Karin was still hungry, therefore we shared a portion of "Fish and Chips" and then left for the Holiday Park.
After another beautiful day I posted some pictures on the site and in the community room we looked to the TV. There was a music program with various artists who live sung songs of the Beatles. Is was very entertaining.