My wonderful discovery happened during the British Lions rugby tour of New Zealand in 2005. Having visited some well known tourist regions in the South Island we were heading north for the remaining games in the North Island.We stumbled upon this coastal town of KaiKura about an hour’s drive from Christchurch and spontaneously decided to take a whale watching tour after seeing the display boards scattered throughout the unremarkable town.
To my surprise our touring vessel was a modern wide bodied fishing boat equipped with sophisticated sonar equipment and large screen monitors for the tourists to view.
The initial journey from the coastal jetty was pretty boring but this all changed very quickly when we were told to observe the screens which recorded the sonar seabed depth readings. The shallow bay depths dived from a few metres depth to hundreds of metres over a short distance, revealing a massive underwater Canyon. This is the domain of the Sperm Whale we were told and as if by magic the first humpback and tail was spotted within 100 metres from the boat.
All aboard the boat climbed to the top deck to best view the spectacle of venting blowholes from several Sperm Whales all around us. The whole group of travelling rugby fans were treated to a display of aerial acrobatics from these wonderful undersea creatures all doing their own thing and amazing the human spectators.
The whales were soon replaced by schools of dolphins following the boat as we circled the Kaikura Bay .
A stunning boat trip was replaced by beautiful vineyards in this region of New Zealand as we travelled north to the ferry over to the North Island.Needless to say the wine is probably the best I have ever tasted with a great summer climate an fertile soils.
In general this day was the highlight of the whole trip, way better than the quality of the rugby from the British continent in 2005.
I will return to New Zealand one day and head back to this region again. If you are lucky enough to visit, you will not be disappointed.