Dol­phin Watch

Alexan­dra Pratt sets out to swim with the dol­phins on a trip to New Zealand.

The People's Friend Special - - CONTENTS -

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

Pic­turesque Pic­ton.

Ready to set sail.

Glid­ing through the wa­ter.

A Hec­tor’s dol­phin close up.

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