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 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 this particular morning, 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. Rob was feeling alright about it all but if I am being honest, I was a little hesitant. We had been sea sick once before, a long time ago on a cruise but that was in a room with no windows and it lasted for hours. 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. If only we knew how foolish we were…

We got on the boat last, which meant we had to sit at the front. According to the safety talk prior to boarding, this was the worst place to sit if you are prone to sickness but as all the older passengers and children rushed to the back we had little option. It start off fine but it was becoming 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 the speed kept it consistent. And then the boat stopped. The up and down movement seemed to increase with uneven rocking in almost every direction 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 where we headed swiftly. Throughout all of this we could hear the main guide giving a running commentary of our whereabouts. We had stopped at the latest sighting of a sperm whale but he had not surfaced yet. The longer we waited the worse we were feeling until eventually it turned into a little competition between Rob and I- who could hold it in the longest?

Unfortunately I lost and it was a horrific overwhelming feeling but it wasn’t long before Rob followed suit 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 were not the only ones feeling the effects of the motion sickness. Rob unfortunately did not feel better. As the sperm whale surfaced, Rob sounded like he was trying to communicate with him as he was face deep into his paper back. Luckily 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.

After a short viewing session, we moved onto another area and waited there for what felt like hours before moving closer to the bay where we spotted some dolphins! They were 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. 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.

Even though our experience was not great, I would highly recommend Whale Watching New Zealand as it was our mistake not there’s. When they say strong risk of sea sickness, they are definitely not playing it safe, they mean it. I imagine on a calm day that the cruise is a fantastic experience with plenty to see. The cruise lasts about 2hrs 30mins so you certainly get plenty of opportunity for nature spotting.

Needless to say we were thrilled to be on dry land and we spent a good 30mins just sitting in the car before we drove to our next stop just to let our stomachs settle. Our whale watching experience was certainly an adventure- 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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