Picton to Kaikoura

Sept 27th- 30th

We had spectacular views of Queen Charlotte Sounds as we arrived into Picton on the South Island. We stopped at a viewing area before making our way to our chosen campsite 17km away at Momorangi Bay. It was such an amazing spot, with little boys fishing out on the lake, us feeding the ducks, and just $18 for the night.

Left the beautiful scenery of Picton and drove 150km to Kaikoura, the roads were winding between rocks and the sea, it did feel like a long journey but still gorgeous views the whole way. We spotted seals along the coast so after pitching the tent at ' Kaikoura Peketa Beach Holiday Park' we went back to Ohau Point and stream to see lots of seals, it was lovely and so great to see them in their natural habitat. The seals migrate to the stream with their pups as it is a safe area to bring up the pups, until they are old enough to go back to the sea.

We had chosen to come back to Kaikoura for one huge reason, to swim with dolphins! We had the opportunity last time too but didn't fully understand what it was and thought it was too much money.

It was expensive at $175 pp (£88) but so very much worth it. The company is called 'Dolphin Encounter', again we had booked through Peterpan's so got a little discount. Must make sure to book in advance as limited numbers every day. We arrived at the Cafe Encounter and checked in, making sure the sea state was good. (It will be cancelled if sea state rough). We waited for our group to be called and watched a safety brief then got sized up for wetsuits, flippers and masks, then we headed to our boat. We weren't out long before we got our first sightings of large pods of dusky dolphins. We were told to get in the water ASAP, we jumped into the freezing waters and immediately were surrounded by wild dolphins, ones that had chosen to swim here. We had been advised to make noises as it would attract the dolphins and it worked, we were swimming along side pods of dusky dolphins! They swam away and we jumped back on board, this happened a few more times. Each time in the water, dolphins were swimming next to us and if we spun around and around they would follow us like a game, it was so magical and so utterly unbelievable, truly once in a lifetime experience and by far the best thing we've ever done!

Around Kaikoura we went to a bar for drinks and the all important free wifi and tried out the famous 'Original Kaikoura Seafood BBQ' shack at Fyffe Quay open 1030 until early evening. It is an alfresco roadside stall where you can try crayfish and other seafood. Kaikoura is Maori for Crayfish so it should be a must whilst here!

Head up Scarborough Street to the top where you will reach Kaikoura Lookout, where you are treated to 360 degree views of grasslands, snowy montains and the pacific ocean all in the same picture.

Make sure to visit 'Point Kean seal colony', at the end of the peninsula seals laze around on the rocks and grass lapping up all the attention, just make sure you keep at least 10 metres away from them, especially the territorial mums, and make sure not to get between the seals and the sea- they will attack if they feel cornered.

The campsite was spacious and we had a good plot, there was no internet, the kitchen living area was fine but basic, but there was a washing machine so done a few loads all for $36 pn.

#traveldiaries #newzealand20142015 #newzealand

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