Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
A cloudy day as we check out of the Heritage Hotel and head over to Mumbles Café for some breakfast. We notice a big difference in the crowds. The place is almost deserted with only 2 cars parked in front of the thermal springs as compared to 100 yesterday and approximately 250 on Saturday.
We head to Kaikoura (Maori for Crayfish) via the Alpine Scenic Triangle. We were advised to take a shortcut to the coast via the Leader Road as this will bring us 50km south of our destination and we will pick up some spectacular scenery as the coast road carves it way between the mountains and the sea, passing through many tunnels. I’m glad we did as the drive was very special.
Debi was hanging out for a crayfish and she said she would be very cranky if there were none in town. As we arrived in Kaikoura the sun was shining and the sea was very calm, perfect for a Whale Watch tour. First port of call was the Whale Watch Centre and yes they had some spots available and the boat was leaving in about 1 hour. Second port of call was to find a restaurant that had crayfish on the menu. We passed one called the Cray Pot but it was closed. Debi was despondent so we decided to find somewhere to stay for the night and ask them for a recommendation. We found a very nice motel called the White Morph, right on the water and the lady who checked us in knew of a good restaurant just down the road and made a booking for us. Debi was ecstatic!
We were briefed for our Whale Watch tour at 1.00 pm then hoped on a bus that took us to South Harbor where we boarded a very comfortable Cat. We headed out to the shelf about a 20 minute trip when the crew stopped the boat and started sounding for any whales in the vicinity. They restarted the engines and set course to their sounding. As we approached a plane was circling overhead so we knew we were close. The crew called out “there she blows” and we sided up to a huge 20 metre Sperm Whale. As we all took photo’s the crew called out that the whale was about to dive and to get ready for the all so popular tail shot. Both Debi and I snapped it.
After diving, the whales usually stay down for 45 minutes then re surface, so we were off looking for another but found none. We returned to the original sighting and there it was again puffing big spouts of water out it’s blowhole but it dived just after we arrived. The crew thought this unusual as the Sperm Whales usually remain on the surface for approximately 20 minutes so the crew decided to stay put. Good thing they did as the whale surfaced 5 minutes later and stayed on top for so long that we had to leave in order to get back to shore before dark. It was a great experience and one we won’t be likely to repeat in Australia as Sperm Whales don’t tend to migrate past our shores.
Back in town we were getting a little hungry as we had no lunch today, so we decided to have a little snack before dinner and went out to buy a fresh crayfish. We found a seafood supply and secured one 5 minutes before they closed. We took it back to the motel and ate it with a nice glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It was delicious but very different to the crayfish we get in Australia, it tasted much sweeter.
Out for dinner I had the best Seafood Chowder to date and Debi had some very tasty Pate on toast for an entree then we both had half a Crayfish for a main. Unfortunately It didn’t live up to expectations but it was still very nice and was reasonably priced so we weren’t too upset.
Another great day and another totally different experience.