Home > New Zealand > Thar she blows – (another $400)

Thar she blows – (another $400)

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Whale watching was one of our must do’s, and where better than in Kaikoura. We arrive the previous day, and head down to Beach Road to Whale Watchers – to find that most of the excursions are fully booked.

We manage to get Jo and the older two onto the 7.45 (the only boat available), and I get the last seat on the 10.30. It is one of those occasions where they tell you the price and you feel financially violated – $400 (about £200) for a “pootle around the harbour”.


dolphins - a treat on the early boat

eyes and ears on the lookout for the blowhole

Still it is a once in a life time thing – a sort of “now we are here it has got to be done”.

Jo and the kids had a bit more luck on the early boat, but on mine it was a different story. After driving about 5 miles out to sea in the packed out boat, I am left watching junks of driftwood float by, the captain stops, drops in the listening equipment and….. “ I think I heard some clicks” says the captain….. more driving……more drift wood…… Eventually, another boat radio’s in to say they have one so we race over. A Sperm whale – which is actually really great, the shame being that we watched for about 60 seconds as it took a few breaths, and then after a quick flick of the tail it was gone. Our interest aroused, we spent the next hour jetting about….. nothing. “Whale Watchers” abuses the trade description, Whale Chasers would be more apt.

the sperm whale was a brief but exceptional treat

I know that nature cannot be controlled, but overall, a really frustrating experience, not made better by the soulless commercialism of the operator or the hefty price tag. Unfortunately, Whale Watchers have a monopoly… it shows. I suspect that in the early days, when they took people out on RIB’s in small groups, managing to get up close and personal, it must have been an awe inspiring sight, and I suspect this is where they got their reputation, but now, you feel like you’re just another tourist on the treadmill emptying your pockets into a pretty impersonal company – shame really…

seals battling it out

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