Attack of the Killer Dolphins

Friday, February 02, 2007

We pulled into Kaikoura after a brief stop for some wine and a few beer in the back. Couldn’t find our Waimea, but I got a bottle of Oyster Bay SB that was pretty good. After getting settled and taking some photos of the amazing mountain view and sunset, Lauren, Katie, Chris, Brad, Anthony, and myself walked over to grab a nice spot to sit in the dusk looking over the ocean and distant peaks with a bit of wine (and in Chris’ case, a flask of scotch). The group was following me and I walked past a bush with a zillion big black flies (or maybe wasps?) buzzing around and moved out of the way just a moment too late. I yelped and tried to warn the others but they walked right into it. The flies chased them all down the street while I stood two feet from the nest laughing hysterically. Lauren would scream waving her arms in her hair and then stop three steps away, calm, and then be attacked again and repeat the process several times. Nobody got bitten or anything though.

After our wine, we made our way into town (about 2km away) and grabbed some pub grub and a beer. A couple girls were eyeing up Anthony, so he went and talked with them. Meanwhile, I helped some locals win a geography contest that was going on. They had to name capital cities. I believe the countries in question were: Canada, Croatia, Finland, Sweden, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Kenya, Peru, Ukraine, and one other one. I couldn’ get Tanzania and Kenya, and they’d gotten Canada and Sweden already. But they never did deliver the drink they promised. Anyway, we had a good quiet and social night out. Nobody wanted to drink too much because we were out on the sea tomorrow to go swim with the dolphins.

And that’s just what we did. I mercifully didn’t get seasick and we thankfully found a wild pod of dusky dolphins and dropped into the water with them. It was amazing. They were very playful, and loved watching us try to do things in the water in the same way that we might enjoy watching someone intoxicated trying to put his keys in the door. They completely outclass us in the water (of course) and enjoy showing it off. I was in the water snorkeling and one came up to me, made eye contact, and then started swimming around me. I tried to keep the pace of the circle and he slowly sped up and sped up until I couldn’t anymore. I laughed and then he turned around and did the same thing in the other direction. We went back and forth like that a couple times. They also liked when we’d dive under water, and supposedly when we’d make noises. Brad was howling like a wolf, I was making mooing sounds (hey, it worked on the seals!) and singing/humming, and I did try some dolphin noises but I’m woefully out of practice.

There were somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600 dolphins in the pod, quite likely more. And, you have to remember, these are wild dolphins. They’re not trained to do tricks, be nice, or be even remotely interested in humans. So being there and having them take a little time out to play with us, smack their tails on the water, flip, circle us, and whatever else was completely on their terms and all the more amazing. One of the dolphins actually came back to play with me a few times, I recognized him because he had a big scar over his left eye. I tried to make it entertaining for them, diving and launching myself out of the water, clapping my fins, and things like that. We probably looked ridiculous to the people on the boat, but I didn’t care. In the past three days, I’ve seen wild seals, penguin-like birds, swam with dolphins and had them hang out with our kayak, travelled to remote beaches, and if I go back further, the laundry list of awesomeness keeps getting longer. Hang gliding, category 5 rafting, Bananas and Blow singalongs, you name it.

We had the rest of the day free, so I went for lunch with Brad and we met up with Lauren and Chelsea for a bite at the Why Not café. I had a lamb pie (the meat pies are very popular here) and a sandwich and milkshake (milkshakes, likewise, are more popular than they are thick). Brad and I ran across some professional bikers doing stunts and watched them for a spell. Then, I captioned and updated my photos from the last few days and did some internet stuff. Nobody was online to chat with at that hour unfortunately. I guess I’m going to have to buckle down and buy a phone card. Dinner tonight was the first meat-related dinner we’ve had on PC2 since, well, since who knows. Tacos and fruit salad with all the fixings. I hung out with the boys that night as the girls seem to be afraid of being caught awake after 10:00 and we called it a night.

The next morning we got up after a much more refreshing sleep than the night prior. The bunk I slept on squeaked any time my toe so much as twitched and kept me up quite a bit. Plus the room had been sauna like in heat, and I was getting eaten alive and therefore itchy. My foot felt swollen, it was so bitten. So that night, I slept like a baby. Anyway, breakfast, for the first time, was not bread, peanut butter, jam, and yogurt. We had scrambled eggs and cheese, hashbrowns, kiwis, and nectarines. Part of this was because we finally got our bank card for the trip so poor Katie didn’t have to finance it out of her pocket. We’re on our way to Christchurch with a CD Brad made that’s actually pretty good and everyone seems in good spirits for the first time in a few days, except maybe Kate. Though she’s doing well considering some very unfortunate news from home. Hopefully we can cheer her up or at least keep her busy. Anyway, Christchurch next and I’m going to meet up with a friend that lives there hopefully. Now, if you don’t mind, the scenery is pretty and I’m going back to it.

Kaikoura Photos

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