What do you think will happen when some dolphins meet a Krab? Find out more about my Kaikoura adventure after the break!
This December, to beat the English winter blues, I travelled for 26 hours to New Zealand! New Zealand was such a wonderful country, but I wanted to share one of my highlights with you.
On my second to the last day, we took a few hours drive to Kaikoura, which is on the east coast of the south island. There, we signed up to go on a “dolphin encounter” where we would see and swim with dolphins. Now, the kind of swimming with dolphins I’ve previously seen on television involved either captivity or baiting with food. So, I was surprised to learn that we would be swimming with totally wild dusky dolphins that are not fed. The 100% wild nature of our trip meant we also had to be warned that we were not guaranteed to see any dolphins.
Still feeling optimistic, we got kitted up with our wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins. I kitted up my Lomo LC-A in its faithful Krab housing and set my distance to 3 meters. Once we were on the boat, we were then informed of the second sacrifice of swimming with wild dolphins. As there was no bait for food, we, the swimmers had to be the lure. No, we weren’t about to offer a tasty human arm, but we were told to swim “dolphin like” (yes that’s right, arms by your side, and flip flap wildly), and to sing and squeak through our snorkels to attract the dolphins. If a dolphin took interest in us, we had to swim in circles with the dolphin to keep a sort of connection with them. You can only imagine how much fun it was for the boat crew to watch fifteen people acting like idiots in the water!
Now, the other preconception I had was that we’d see a few, maybe five to ten dolphins in the distance, but if this happened, I felt I’d be pretty darn pleased. You can imagine what a wonderful surprise it was for me to see not five, not ten, but HUNDREDS of fins on the horizon! The boat pulled up and we lowered ourselves into the sea and got dolphining! I had set my LC-A to 3m, thinking that’s as close as the dolphins would get, but I actually had to get back on the boat halfway and change the setting to 0.8m because the dolphins were coming right up and all around me!
It was literally a breath taking experience, at one stage there was so many weaving all around and past me that I didn’t know where to look and I didn’t dare move in case I accidentally kicked a dolphin! After having a great time in the water, we had a chance to photograph them from the boat before heading back to shore.
On my travels I’d done many incredible things, cliff jumps, caving, white water rafting…but swimming with wild dolphins was definitely the highlight of this holiday, and all my other holidays! If you’re ever on the south island, make the trip to Kaikoura to visit these beautiful animals in their natural habitat!