Whale Watching in Kaikoura

We booked our whale watching cruise before we started our holiday, it was one of only two things we had pre-booked. We chose to book with http://www.whalewatch.co.nz direct who I would highly recommend even if our cruise ended in disaster. They have such a good sighting success rate that they offer an 80% refund if you don’t see any whales on your trip.

On the morning of our trip, it was cloudy and we weren’t feeling very optimistic. When we arrived, the staff said that the cruise was still sailing but with a strong risk of sea sickness. Straight away Rob was feeling alright about it but I was a little hesitant. We had been sea sick once before, a long time ago on a cruise but we had a room with no windows and it was really rough. Surely a catamaran would be fine with all those windows? Smugly we waited for our time walking past nervous passengers panic buying sea sickness tablets and headed to the boat.

When we got on the boat, we had to sit at the front (which we were warned was the worst place to sit if you are prone to sickness) as all the older passengers and children rushed to the back. We were fine at first but it became quickly apparent that the sea sickness warning was pretty accurate. The boat was making some big moves, simulating the most bumpy of roller coasters but we both love them so at first we were OK. That was until the boat stopped. The up and down movement seemed to get worse when the boat was still and that’s when we both started to feel pretty warm and uncomfortable.

Recognising the early signs, one of the staff members suggested standing at the back of the boat which is where we headed swiftly. Throughout all of this the main guide was explaining how a sperm whale had been sighted and that is what we were looking for but the longer we waited the worse we were feeling and it turned into a little competition, who could hold it the most.

Unfortunately I lost but it wasn’t long before Rob followed and whilst most people were hanging over the side of the boat with their cameras and binoculars we were both starring at the inside of paper bag. Luckily for me, I felt much better afterwards and it turns out, we were two of many, many people feeling the motion sickness but the same cannot be said for Rob. As the sperm whale surfaced, I was well enough to get my camera out and capture just a few precious shots before he went back down and did so without showing his tail.

We moved onto another area and waited there for what felt like hours before moving closer to the bay to spot some dolphins where the highlight of the trip was! Dolphins are so playful in nature and curious so they kept diving beneath and around the boat and leaping out of the water to show off. It was great to see and the best diversion from my motion sickness.

It was not long after that, we headed back to shore. Unfortunately for Rob he got to see some dolphins but saw more of the bag than he did the sea. I have never seen him so ill and at one point it sounded like he was trying to communicate with the whale but he was just crouched at the back of the boat with his head in the bag instead. It was a horrific experience for both of us and one we will not be repeating anytime soon. The company were fantastic though and the poor health and safety guy who looked after Rob, replenishing his sick bags was an angel. He gained a lot of respect that day.

Again I would highly recommend Whale Watching New Zealand but when they say strong risk of sea sickness, they are definitely not playing it safe, they mean it so be aware of that. I imagine on a calm day that the cruise is a fantastic experience with plenty to sea. The cruise lasts about 2hrs 30mins so you certainly get plenty of opportunity for nature spotting.

Well that was our whale watching experience- it may not have been what we expected but it is certainly something we will laugh about for a long time.

SP x

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