Glancing around the Whale Watch Kaikoura reception, tourists lined up on either side of me are bubbling with excitement as they check in.
B asic safety briefings and standards are carefully communicated on an overhead screen with an emphasis on child safety, which makes everyone feel more at ease and comfortable. We make our way to the bus and are welcomed by our bus driver Willie, who then tells us that this is “a pearler of a day” with near perfect conditions. After the short bus drive over the peninsula to South Bay, we are taken to the marina. Here our vessel is waiting for us with four crew members. We are seated and spoken to by our guide, Aroha, who introduces us to our captain for the day, Paki, and fellow crew, Wiremu and Haley. Her relaxed nature and local wisdom is comforting as she navigates her way through safety procedures. Within minutes, we begin our journey out to sea and are instantly welcomed by marine wildlife, as birds soar overhead and seals bask in the seas stillness. Aroha directs our attention back to the main purpose of our visit; to see some of the world’s largest and most treasured creatures, whales. She tells us that Sperm whales are what we are most likely to see today as they found feeding in the Kaikoura canyon year round. Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and can reach an average of 16 metre in length and have the largest brain of any animal on earth. Aroha also tells us about how Sperm whales use a liquid substance called spermaceti to regulate their buoyancy. Spermaceti can solidify or become liquid depending on whether the mammal wants to dive down for food or
we begin our journey out to sea and are instantly welcomed by marine wildlife, as birds soar overhead and seals bask in the seas stillness.
Image: A sperm whale’s tail breaks the water off the Kaikoura coast