Hong Kong Australia and New Zealand Fall 2017 travel blog

A beautiful start to the day

Green hillsides

Foggy mountains

The long road

Snow capped peaks

Figuring out the plan to get to the Dolphin Encounter

Dolphin Encounter sign--definitely a bucket list item

Dolphin Encounter location

The bay at Kaikoura

Our guide for the dolphin encounter

From the mountains to the sea.

The dolphins say "copme on in"

Some bird fishing nearby

Preparing for the enounter--this was a thick wetsuit

Dolphin says "Are you coming in?"

With the dolphins

"Scoop" my swimming buddy--he had a scar that looked like someone took...

Selfie with the dolphins

"Scoop" up close

Dolphins jumping around me-1

Dolphins are jumping-3

Dolphins are jumping-4

Dolphins are jumping-5

Dolphins are jumping-6

All of us with the dolphins

Looking down for the dolphins

Swimming with the dolphins


November 2, 2017- The road from Murchison to Kaikoura goes through some flatland, then goes over the mountains. So we had some flat driving, then it was hills and curves the rest of the way. This drive was also complicated by all the roadwork being done on the interior highway, which also suffered damage in the 2016 earthquake but not as much as the Picton to Kaikoura highway. We had to stop for road construction at least 15 times on the road to Kaikoura. We got pretty good at it. But I was pretty tired of driving back and forth, twisting and turning on those mountain roads. I was happy when we finally finished that part.

We finally arrived in Kaikoura after lunch. We parked at the RV Park, then took one of the RVs over to the Dolphin Encounter. Originally I did not sign up for swimming with the dolphins because it looked so expensive. But then I learned that Adventure Caravans had covered the tour part, and the swimming part was much more reasonable. So I said—“let’s do it.” So glad that I did. It was not something I knew should have been on my bucket list, but having done it I was glad I could check it off.

We were fitted in the shop for wetsuits, which were very thick (it was just finishing winter there and the water was about 50 degrees), then a bus took us to the temporary boat launches.

Kaikoura used to have regular docks, but the November 2016 earthquake destroyed a lot of those facilities. They told us that just off the shore from Kaikoura is where the two faults moved. Parts of Kaikoura rose over 24 feet in about 30 seconds. The whole town of Kaikoura moved a meter to the northeast. No wonder the coastal highway was destroyed.

So the boat launching area was a temporary fix.

We all loaded up into the boat on its trailer, then a tractor lowered the trailer into the water and off we went.

The dolphins weren’t far away—they hang out off the coast just a little south of Kaikoura. These are known as dusky dolphins, and they are in the wild. They choose whether to hang out with you. Our briefing told us that if we made noises and dove down every once and awhile, the dolphins would consider us interesting and hang around with us. So that is what I did. After overcoming the shock of the cold water, I used a regular call (my best imitation of dolphin speak) and did some dive downs with the result that I have 4-5 dolphins around me most of the time. A couple of times they bumped me, which I considered a token of affection (or maybe an effort to startle me out of my crazy dolphin talk). One dolphin in particular hung around me a lot. I called him “Scoop” because he had a scar on his right side below the dorsal fin that looked like someone had taken an ice cream scoop and scrapped some of his skin off. I kept seeing him again and again. I spent about 45 minutes hanging out with the dolphins, then returned to the boat. On the way back we saw some albatross and even saw some albatross nests. Then it was back to the shore and the RV park. Susan and I walked to a restaurant for dinner. A good day.



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