Tuesday 27 October 2020

No-rcas. Again.

"I know you're busy with work..." said a begging emailer today. Huh. Chance would be a fine thing. What work I've been doing has mostly been recycling material from earlier trips around NZ, and spying out new things that I could write about remotely - just like every other travel writer in the country. To be fair, there's a rich source of story content here - but oh, how nice it would be, to write about somewhere overseas! But that won't be happening for ages - even though Australia is now happy to accept Kiwis in some states, we'd still have to go into (and pay for) isolation on return. Not worth it.

But - just so an entire month doesn't go by without an entry in this blog - I did do something new a couple of weeks ago. Well, sort of new. I went out for the afternoon with the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari - nearly five hours cruising around the Gulf in a catamaran, looking out for cetaceans. Of course, it goes without saying that there wouldn't be orcas, since as a species they are still intent on avoiding me. [Their latest stiletto to my heart was to learn from an old man this very morning while out on my walk, that he (as addicted as any teenager) had once looked up from his phone at the beach just below - my beach, the one I walk along every day, that's just a couple of minutes from my house - to see two orcas cruising around the bay, right by the shore, hunting rays. Could that be any more painful for me?]

That was also a disappointment to the woman waiting next to me before boarding, when I couldn't help telling her they'd be a no-show - but this was her third safari with the company, so she knew she was going to enjoy herself anyway.

It was school holidays, and there were lots of kids on board who were thrilled just to be on a boat, which was fun to see, as a person who takes ferries as they do buses. The captain was droll and laid-back, the staff were enthusiastic, both just as they should be, and we had a lovely cruise over blue water past leafy beachside suburbs and bush-covered islands. We might have seen all sorts of species, from pygmy blue whales right up to humpbacks, but had to make do with some distant puffs - blows, we in the know call them - from some Bryde's whales. No spectacular breaching, such as I've seen before in Hawaii, and Alaska, and Galapagos - so it was just as well that a bunch of common dolphins turned up and obligingly put on a show in the bow-wave and wake, leaping and diving entertainingly. Not as spectacularly as that amazing performance I watched from shore in Kaikoura, where the dolphins were literally cartwheeling, hundreds and hundreds of them - but good enough to be the highlight of a relaxing day out in the harbour.

The most amazing thing were the people who spent the entire time on the bows of the catamaran, despite the captain's warnings about splashes when crossing ferry wakes. They stood there like figureheads, utterly drenched, and unflinching. Apparently, it's common. Amazing.

So, it was a good trip out - lovely weather, perfect sea conditions, some sightings, well organised and interesting. It was just a shame that, on the way back, I asked one of the marine biologists on board about her top sighting, and she lit up while describing seeing a pod of orcas hunting and eating common dolphins right by the boat. Spoilt the whole trip for me, but it was entirely my fault. I literally asked for it. Tch.


the queen said...

Sad, for you, but now I can integrate “chance would be a fine thing” into conversations.

TravelSkite said...

You're welcome (an Americanism) to that very British comment.


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