Under the sea

The whole summer I’ve been telling people what a great place Kaikoura is and that it’s the best place to see the sealife. Now it’s finally my turn to see some of it. I’d booked my tours weeks in advance and as this weekend got closer, I got more excited.

On arrival I paid way too much for a spot in the holiday park, as they didn’t differentiate between one or two occupants per tent. I think my brain was numb because I could have had a hostel bed way cheaper. I tried to justify it and forget about this mistake by telling myself how great it was that this place had a hot tub.


The activity for the day was a dolphin swim. Yes, I’ve done this before, but got really excited by the many awesome stories I hear from people I’ve met here. Besides, I’m feeling rich so why not. At check in I’m warned that there are medium rough sea conditions and many people in the morning tour got sick. If I was ok with that. I guess. Never been seasick in my life!

Perhaps I just haven’t spent enough time at sea. Perhaps I’ve been lucky so far. Or, perhaps my body is a bit disrupted by the antibiotics for my wasp sting. After a couple of hours at sea I saw my hand reach for one of the many bright-colored buckets. Next to me sits a guy who looks a bit green. The girl on the other side of me asks: “Can you get seasick in the water?” “Most definitely.” “Ok, I’m seasick.” She concludes as she grabs a bucket as well. Over a third of the group is feeling ill.

At the end of the trip the tour guide says: “Well, I hope you will remember the dolphins, not the buckets.” I lost count of how many buckets of seasickness went overboard, but some people looked really miserable. At that stage you don’t even care that you’re puking in a bucket with 15 other people around you. I loved the trip though, and after the sickness was out, I even enjoyed the waves. I will never forget the dolphins.

We boated out for over half an hour and saw the little whalewatch planes circling over the water. Must be something good! Immediately we were instructed to get ready. We were in full wetsuit, including hood, which made a pretty picture. Soon we all stood at the back of the boat. At the sound of the horn we got into the water. I started swimming like a madman, as if I was followed by a shark. Immediately I was surrounded by dolphins and after a short scare, they got really close, I was pumped with adrenaline. I was twirling, swimming in circles, while making crazy sounds, just to keep the dolphins entertained. A swim is entirely on their terms. If you’re not interesting enough, that’s it. The dolphins turn quicker than the judges on the Voice.

We were swimming with a pod of at least a hundred dolphins. They were playing, jumping out of the water and landing right in front of you. There were moments where you didn’t see any, but when they came back it was glorious. You’re not just swimming amongst them, but really interacting with these dusky dolphins. They looked at you, like you look at them. Luckily their coordination is great as they race around you. I don’t even know how to describe this feeling.

After round one I was exhausted. Round two started only minutes later and I decided to bring the energy down a notch. Unfortunately this was the round where I started to feel light-headed, which made me decide not to join round three. I tried to take some photos from the boat, but was too distracted by the bucket. It wasn’t until after bucket number two, on the way back, that I could fully enjoy it again. We saw an albatross and some really cool birds, hovering over the water, wings spread.

This was amazing. I keep looking at my photos and videos. I don’t care how much this costs. This is something you just have to do. My last dolphin swim was nothing compared to this!


3 thoughts on “Under the sea

  1. We also did the dolphin swimming in Kaikoura (and we had rough seas too) and it was one of the most amazing things I ever did. Ours was the early morning tour and seeing the dolphins jump out of the water with the sunrise in the background was almost too beautiful to be true.

  2. Pingback: Time to recap | Pretty Packed

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