Kaikoura (2): Whale Watching Flight

Thursday 01/03 (1/2)

Vlog by Isabelle: see below


Montage by Ludivine: see below


By me:

Isabelle wakes me up by saying: “it’s 7am”! Shit, the alarm clock didn’t ring (I don’t know what happened)! We missed our 5:30am appointment at Dolphins Encounter. I can see that they even tried to call me but my phone was on silent.

I immediately try to call them but they are still close.

I call them as soon as they open (at 7:30am) and they nicely accept to book us on the next available departure, which is neither today nor tomorrow (all boats being fully booked). The next available trip is on Saturday morning, at… 5:30am again. It’s very nice from them that they accept to book us on a next trip. In view of the price, I was really scared to have missed the opportunity altogether.

The weather is great today (in line with the weather forecast).

I thus call ‘Air Kaikoura Aero Club’ to try to reschedule our flight. I indeed booked a 30-minute Whale Watch Flight with them for tomorrow but the weather forecast for tomorrow is crap (rain). They say that they will try to accommodate us today and will confirm by 9am. Let’s cross fingers…

Kids start their first homeschooling of the day. The guy from the whale flight calls me back to say that they have spots for us for a 2pm flight today. Yippee! We’re so glad. The misadventure of this morning turns out to be a good thing: we will do the whale watching flight on this sunny day while we were booked for tomorrow (which will be a rainy day). I wouldn’t indeed have called them to change the flight if we had gone to swim with the dolphins.

We are very much excited about this (first) possible encounter with a whale.

After the 2 homeschooling sessions, during which Isabelle managed to finalize our trip in Patagonia and I continue reading about exciting Peru, we eat a salad.

At 1:30pm we are at the Kaikoura airport, from where we are going to take off to hopefully see a whale.

The people of ‘Air Kaikoura’ brief us a bit about whales. The ones we mainly see in Kaikoura are the sperm whales, who are there all year round, but they also see blue whales and orcas here from time to time and humpback whales who pass by the Kaikoura Coastline between May and August. Sperm whales are about 18m long. They come to the surface for about 15’ before diving deep (up to 3km!) for 50’. We usually see the males, who are solitary, while the females tend to flock together, sometimes 30-40 together, but much further offshore (15 miles).

The flight is just for us (we couldn’t accommodate one additional person in the plane anyway). I sit in front with the pilot. It’s beautiful.

After 5’ the pilot spots a whale. It’s magical to view this magnificent sperm whale in his natural environment. Wow!

And then the pilot says: “lets’ try to find another one”. And less than 3’ after, he finds one. Only from the air do you get to appreciate the full size of the mighty sperm whale, especially this second one who has 2 boats nearby. And then he finds another one. Three wales while we were hoping to see one! And for 2 of them he stays above them until they dive, in order for us to be able to see the beautiful spectacle of the tail perpendicular to the sea.

The only frustrating part is the pictures: impossible to take a correct shot from such a distance (150m) with the iPhone.

After the whales, the pilot says: “and now, let’s try to find the dolphins”! We thought it was a joke but he quickly finds them. More than a hundred of them (dusky dolphins), swimming and jumping out of the water! What a beautiful spectacle.

After admiring the whales and the dolphins (and each time circling them very well with the plane), the pilot takes us on a scenic flight of Kaikoura and the stunning surrounds that include the mountains, and to the east, the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Kaikoura’s environment is truly spectacular – the village is caught between the rugged Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean.

We immensely enjoyed this panoramic whales (and dolphins) flight. We could also enjoy the stunning scenic views along the spectacular Kaikoura coastline. We really got a magical experience of a lifetime. Definitely one of the highlights of the world tour.

We come back at the base around 3pm.

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