I read an article today from Lonely Planet about the top 10 marine encounters in the world. Would you believe two of them are in New Zealand? And three are in Australia! Definitely something to put on the bucket list:
- Floating fly-bys with manta rays, Fiji
- Swimming with dolphins, New Zealand
- Communing with tuna, South Australia
- Splash out with sea lions, South Australia
- Hanging out with whale sharks, Western Australia
- Peaceful drifting with jellyfish, Palau
- Exploring the deep blue with humpback whales, Niue
- Snorkelling with manatees, Florida
- Diving with fur seals, New Zealand
- Paddling with penguins, Galapagos Islands
Both of the NZ listings are in the South Island — we went swimming with dolphins and I wrote about it in a previous blog. We didn’t have time to go swimming with the fur seals in Kaikoura but we wanted to – the weather turned bad the day that we were there so the trip was cancelled but we spoke to a few people who had gone the previous day and they said it was incredible. We had planned to go with Seal Swim Kaikoura. The list above makes it sound like you go scuba diving but that isn’t the case – it is just swimming/snorkeling. The main difference between this one and swimming with dolphins (from what I can tell) is that the tour knows where the seals are so you don’t spend as much time looking for them as you do with the dolphins. And of course you swim with seals instead of dolphins :-).
The New Zealand Fur Seal is mainly found in New Zealand (makes sense) but there are some in sub-Antarctic islands and in Western Australia. If you aren’t up for swimming with them, you can also do a Kaikoura Coast Seal Colony Walk and if you’re here in the winter then the reviews of the seal pup activity at Ohau waterfall look really cool! Apparently the pups spend time at the waterfall when their parents are out feeding and are very active. Note that all of the articles mention the smell so be prepared.
For an even easier way to see the NZ Fur Seals, just drive up the coast around Kaikoura. The best view is supposed to be between Kekerengu down to Oaro – about 82 kilometers. You’ll see seals lazing about on the rocks all up and down there and there are places to pull over and watch them.
17 November 2016 — I’m sorry to have to report that the Kaikoura Coast Seal Colony Walk and the Ohau Waterfall were destroyed in an earthquake that hit on Monday. Details on the earthquake are in my blog. The seals were most likely out to sea when it happened so I am hoping that means not many of them were killed. Very sad though and I hope they find a new breeding ground this season.