Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ferry Transfer from North to South Island – Whales of Kaikoura -25 Apr 2016

It was end of our travel in North Island. Early morning we drove to the ferry terminal to transport the car and ourselves from Wellington to Picton. The transfers of car in a ship ‘Interislander’ was a first time experience and all of us were looking forward to it. The entire process was smooth and efficient, except for Kats doing a Houdini act when he went to get coffee for all of us. Thank the Lord, both of us had local SIM cards and were able to communicate. One must always buy a local SIM card. The ship was huge with 8 levels. 
A very large transporter
After a sumptuous breakfast, we settled down in a well appointed lounge with huge glass windows. The sea was fairly calm with occasional white horses.     
Lovely Marlborough Bay
After three and a half hours of smooth sailing in the scenic Marlborough Sounds we landed in Picton at 11.30 AM. After a further two hour smooth and interesting car journey we reached Kaikoura and checked into the ‘Sea View Motel’.
City of Picton

Picton Airport

Never ending meadows

Huge Vineyards

Nat King Cole -The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Excellent roadways


The motel offered an excellent sea view. It is better to stay in Motels as they are very informal and provide a home like atmosphere. They generally provide good cooking and laundry facilities. We used to invariably end up buying heat and eat food from their stores. Most days we retired early and cooked a very basic meal in the motel. 
Real deal undoubtedly

Our Toyota parked outside the motel

From the motel

Along the drive

Sun set in front of motel

Throughout our stay the weather was manageable; as we travelled South it got colder. In some places we had to use electric blankets or room heaters.

After a lovely lunch and a bit of rest, we drove around the small but very picturesque town. We ended up relishing a huge ‘Cray Fish’ at dinner time and retired early. A medium sized Cray Fish costs 70 to 80 NZD, pretty steep though.  

Kats with a very vivacious Mexican student bar tender

All of us agreed

The picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura is the perfect place for marine life encounters, coastal walks, and tucking into a plate of crayfish. In the Maori language 'kai' means food, 'koura' means crayfish. It has a population of 3,552 inhabitants.

Next morning we went on a ‘Whale Watching’ tour. The main focus of the tour is to spot the ‘Giant Sperm Whale’. Once they dive they remain in water from 40 – 60 minutes, which makes it possible to sight them at least twice during our 2.30h trip. The whales grow to a length of 15 – 20 meters and weigh 40 – 60 tons. That is pretty big. They live for over 70 years. The trip also involves sighting of ‘Dusky and Hector Dolphins’ and Royal Albatross.

After a long wait

Another gigantic mamal

Racing with us

After the whale watch

Not to be left behind

Low water

We were very lucky to sight 2 whales and a large number of dolphins along with a few Albatross. Watching whales pop up from nowhere and majestically dive displaying their huge tail is a memorable sight.

The company refunds the trip cost up to 80% if whales are not sighted. That is fair game. 

After a very satisfying lunch in an Indian Restaurant we drove 25 Km from the city to watch baby seals. Ohau Point seal colony is a unique spot where baby seal pups can be seen under a waterfall and swimming in the stream. Baby seals come from the sea and waddle across to the waterfall to play and bond, whilst their mothers are busy at sea hunting food. The babies can be seen visiting the waterfall from end April to August. The waterfall is part of the Ohau Point Fur Seal Sanctuary and is home to an estimated 3000 seals. The seals are quite noisy in a group.
From the sea towards the waterfall

Lazing around

Pretty chilly and windy

Naveen all pleased

Baby seal crossing the creek

Ohau point waterfall

For us sighting whales, dolphins and seals was a unique experience.
The Kaikoura trip was worth every penny. 

An Aside

A Sea voyage is always relaxing and therapeutic. The sea breeze and the gentle sway of a cruise ship help one to retrospect. Looking back on our 10 days stay in North Island, what struck me most was the scenic beauty of New Zealand. They inherited this piece of beauty, but no kudos for that. What merits a mention is the way they have maintained and preserved nature’s bounty in a pristine fashion.

I am really amazed at how these small countries with hardly any population maintain their natural assets, highways, toilets, tourism support and other infrastructure in prime condition. This great attribute is most evident in NZ and East European countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic etc.

How do these countries achieve this very high level of upkeep and maintenance when we struggle to provide bare, minimum facilities?

I have drawn a comparison between NZ which is a country and my own state Karnataka, India. I have taken roads to highlight my point.

NZ is slightly bigger than Karnataka and has three times the road length than us. There are fewer people in NZ to maintain roads. In fact Karnataka is 13 times more populous than NZ. Even with this massive population we generate lesser revenue. Anybody who has driven in NZ will agree their roads are outstanding in every way.

How come New Zealand gets the act right and we fail miserably?

268,021 km²
191,791 km²
NZ – slightly larger area to look after
Current population
4.5 million
64 million
NZ  - has extremely  limited work force
Total Revenue
US$ 51 billion
US$38 billion
Karnataka generates extremely less revenue in spite of 15 times more population than NZ
Total length of highways
28,311 km.
3 times more roads to be maintained in NZ

Source - Internet


  1. Dear Sir, more and more I read your blog I simply want to say HATS OFF TO YOUR EFFORT AND DETAILS TO WHICH YOU HAVE PUT TOGETHER THE FACTS
    BZ SIR

  2. Thanks Ramki and Seeta for your very encouraging comments. Keep reading.