The New Zealand Diaries: whale wonders (06/01/16)


I saw whales for the first time in my life—and it was worth every single cent I had spent on that flight on an 8 seater plane with “Wing over Whales”. Flying originally at 1000m, the pilot dipped down to 500m and circled over the magnificent creatures. We saw some incredible sperm whales (pictured above), gliding effortlessly through the water despite their large size and weight, puffing up air through their one nostril which is what allowed Liam (our pilot) to spot them in the first place. Sperm whales dive thousands of metres under water to catch their prey, which they identify through sending out magnetic vibrations, stunning their prey before swallowing it whole. Jonah would not have been of interest to sperm whales–far too small. They literally have bigger fish to fry and mostly feast on giant squid, whose tentacles can inflict scaring on their noses.


We also saw another kind of whale with patches of white…the name begins with P, and at first glance we thought it was an Orca whale but is not. What was significant about this sighting was that these whales were swimming along with a large pod of dolphins—apparently not something that is common. Our pilot Liam was quite excited.


The views of Kaikoura (which literally means “Meal of Crayfish” ) were magnificent. Turquoise-green-blue water turned into glitter patches by the rays of the sun and green mountains all around….magnificent. Even if we had not seen a whale, the expensive treat would have been worth every cent just for the views alone….magnificent


From a health point of view the flight was also the right decision. Despite the calm weather, the spins and circling did make me quite sick so once again I had to spend a stint on the floor afterwards sipping water and ginger beer and waiting for the world to stop spinning. That said, it took less time to recover than the day before and so I was able to embark on my westward journey via the Lewis pass albeit slowly. A wonderful pass, not to steep, with a river running through a valley amidst mountains, with sheep, cows and even lamas grazing peacefully on green hills. I had to stop and take a 1.5 hour nap en route (assume my blood pressure was still low) and so was able to safely get to a lovely little campsite here on the other side of the Lewis pass afterwards. More anon.


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