An Unexpected Visit
Akaroa was an entirely unintentional foray. After waking up slightly damp after Cayley’s roof leaked in a storm, we were unable to go “onward” past Arthur’s pass because the self containment sticker was still in the postal system – and due any day back in Christchurch. So leaving the angry squall nestled in the mountains behind us, we headed back to the sunshine that glistened over the Canterbury plains. Akaroa had been on the periphery of our planning, as somewhere ‘nice’ to go, but not “nice enough” to make it onto our must do itinerary. It made up for the rather dismal start we’d had thus far in Cayley and set us up for the rest of the trip.
Te Puia o Whakāri
When you land amidst the ruins of the old sulphur factory, you wonder what it must have been like living in this desolate place for months at a time. The volcano itself descends some five thousand feet below sea level to reach the seafloor, but its crater and surrounding rim extend a mere 300m above the sea. This makes it one of the most accessible volcanoes in the world, with no need to traipse up a mountainside for hours to reach signs of volcanic activity. The tour itself is little more than a pleasant stroll, albeit through steam that hangs ominously in the air. Indeed, in Maori its name means “the dramatic volcano”, and as you approach the island by boat, you get a bubbling sense of anticipation. The steam that emits from the island’s centre seems to merge seamlessly with the blue sky, forming a backdrop of white clouds. It is this ever present cloud that caused Captain Cook to name it “White Island”. We booked a tour on Peejay, and spent the day exploring!
This was one of the highlights of the trip so far, which we booked with Encounter Kaikoura. Despite being utterly amazing, it came with some significant seasickness drawbacks! Booking on the early 5.30am tour was perfect for us at it meant we could also make it to church “later” in the day. We arrived bleary eyed at ten past five ready to get suited up and were provided with a long john wetsuit, additional wetsuit jacket, neoprene hood, fins, face mask and snorkel. We chose to wear a rashy underneath in addition to our swimsuits. After a short video briefing we headed onto a bus for a short drive round the coast to the harbour, where we hopped on board our boat.
After reading plenty of reviews we had purchased some seasickness tablets and taken them ahead of time. Although the weather was fine, the sea was choppy and had a large swell. The dolphins in Kaikoura are completely wild, and aren’t enticed in any way, which means the first part of the trip is spent looking for them. We passed a small pod of dolphins, but continued on as our guides decided they weren’t in a playful mood. A few minutes later another group was spotted, and after donning our hoods and masks we were ushered into the water. Continue reading