We had originally planned to get up and head right out on the first whale watching tour of the day, but when we checked in to our cottages the night before, the owner Graham asked us if we wanted to go Crayfishing with him in the morning.  Crayfish are warm water lobster.  How could we pass up a chance to go out onto the sea to check some lobster traps?  We met Graham in the morning and he took us and his boat down to dock and we quickly set off.


The surf was actually pretty rough, so I quickly put my camera away and hoped it wouldn't get wet.  The current was really strong, so 2 of his traps were underwater and the one trap we hauled up was empty.  He said this is one of only a few times in his life he didn't get at least one crayfish.  I really wished we would have gotten to catch one, but it was still a fun boat ride. 

Next up was whale watching.  We were all really excited about the whale watching tour.  We lucked out and had good weather even though it looked like it was going to be rainy all day.  The clouds hung on to the hills near the shoreline, but it never really rained in the ocean or in Kaikoura.  We signed up for a tour (in general you should book ahead as they can fill up) and didn't have to wait too long until it was time to leave.  We got in a bus and were taken to the docks.  We boarded the boat and took off in search of whales.  I think we all expected large groups of whales that you just drive out to and take your pictures, but the Sperm whales that inhabit the area don't really travel in groups.  They are more solitary, so we headed off and tried to locate a whale.

Looking for whales

While we were on our way to find the whales, we spotted a couple of seals that waved to us as we passed by

We continued on and also saw a few Albatross flying around.  They can be quite large birds.  It was pretty neat to see them flying up close.

We finally spotted our first whale.  You can start to see them from quite a ways away as you can see them blowing air out of their blow holes.
As soon as somebody spots one, the captain takes off as fast as he can to get close to it before it dives back under.  They stay under for about 45 minutes, so you really only get one chance to see one.

Our first whale!

We didn't get to see very much of this whale because it went under right as we were nearing it.  One nice thing is that the guides know right when they are going to go under and they tell you to get ready to take a picture of the tail.  It didn't take us long and we spotted another whale.  We got to this one earlier and were able to watch it much closer and for longer.  It was neat to be able to hear it and see it up close.  Everyone was really amazed at the experience.

Sperm whale on the surface

Sperm whale headed under

Enjoying our tour

We ended up seeing a total of 4 whales on our trip which the guide said was a pretty good number.  They will refund you 80% of your money if they don't spot at least 1 whale on your tour.  Here's a few more whale pictures.

Yes, I took lots of pictures of the whales

We were headed back and noticed that Tyler had fallen asleep again.  He seemed to take a nap almost everyday on this vacation which was very weird because it had been a long time since he had taken a nap before this vacation.  One of the things we were very worried about was how Tyler would sleep on vacation and he did great.  He seemed to really get the sleep that he needed most days, which is more than we can say at home a lot of the time.

Tyler squeezing in a nap

We made it back to the docks about 2.5 hours after we left.  We all agreed that it was truly an amazing sight to see the whales up close.

Pictures from the dock area

We absolutely loved the whale watching, but it isn't cheap.  It cost $145NZ per adult and $60NZ for Tyler.  We may have somehow ended up with a 10% family discount, but I'm not sure why.  I think my dad just asked if there were any discounts and she just gave us 10% off (thanks Dad).

After the tour, we went back to our cottages to relax a little bit.  Since the weather was still holding, Erin and I decided to go for an easy hike along the Kaikoura peninsula.  My parents said they would watch Tyler, so we headed off in the late afternoon to start the hike.  We followed the trail up onto the tops of the cliffs of the peninsula and were rewarded with some nice views.

Kaikoura Peninsula

We continued on with the hike and found a trail that led down to the shore. There we found a colony of seals hanging out.

Down to the sea shore

I switched out lenses and took a few closeups of the seals

Fur seals

The waves were really crashing against the rocks and it was quite cool to see.  I tried to take some pictures, but they don't really capture the power that you feel when you are actually there to see, hear, and feel the waves crashing.

Crashing waves

We then decided it was time to head back.  We had noticed along the way that it looked like you could walk along the shore the entire way back so we decided to give that route a try.  As we were going, we noticed that the tide was coming in pretty quickly and we were rapidly running out of shoreline to walk on.  We were debating about what to do, but we kept pushing on.  We got to a few narrow spots and eventually got to a large seal blocking the way.


We couldn't really find a way around him and we knew that we were probably going to run out of dry space anyway, so we examined our other options.  We saw a very faint trail a few feet back that basically went straight up the cliff.  I put the camera in my pack so that I'd have both hands free and we started climbing up.  Eventually, we got to some rocks and were able to find some more level ground.  We then walked forward a ways and saw a sign that was facing the other direction.  We walked up to it and it was a warning sign to not go past that point as it was too steep and dangerous.  I would agree and was glad we were going up and not down as it was very steep and exposed.  We followed what looked to be an old 4WD road and it took us back to the main trail.  We hopped a gate and were back on the main trail heading back to our van.  As we got closer to the car, we could see the shore again and were glad that we had abandoned that route as there was absolutely no path there anymore as it was all covered up by the incoming tide.  Next time we'll check the tide table before we head out.

We got back and it was time for dinner so we headed back to downtown and ate at the fish and chips place again.  Once again it was excellent.  After dinner, we headed back to our cottages for the night.

Continue to Day 9

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