Alexandra Pratt sets out to swim with the dolphins on a trip to New Zealand.
Alexandra Pratt is in New Zealand
Getting out on to the water is the best way to explore the Marlborough Sounds and the wildlife here on the northern edge of South Island. So, we have joined a “dolphin swimming” cruise with Dolphin Ecowatch Tours and, as it is late in the season, there are only a handful of us on the boat.
The three sounds which make up the Marlborough region morph into a maze of sheltered inlets, fringed with sandy beaches and steep green hills.
The famous 71 km Queen Charlotte track is a popular hike through the area, which once was home to Maori tribes who stayed for the easy hunting.
Captain Cook claimed the area for Britain in 1770 and discovered a cure for scurvy in the grass on Motuara Island. Now one of several nature reserves in the sounds, Motuara provides a predator-free environment for some of New Zealand’s threatened native species, including the Maud Island frog and the Okarito brown kiwi.
For me, though, the real excitement lies in these beautifully clear – yet unpredictable – waters just south of the notorious Cook Strait. Those of us already changed into wetsuits cannot get into the water while the Hector’s
Ready to set sail.
Gliding through the water.
A Hector’s dolphin close up.