Kaikoura, New Zealand

Don’t mistake New Zealand for it’s neighbour, Australia. Yes, New Zealand has wildlife, but nothing that’s going to kill you! One place you’ll find the natural world in abundance is Kaikoura.

We took the drive from Nelson to Kairkoura, a spot that’s been overlooked slightly in recent years due to an earthquake in 2016 closing roads nearby. But trust me, patience at the traffic lights really pays off here! Even on our drive we spotted fur seals sunbathing along the coast – I couldn’t wait to make it to our destination and see them up close.

The town itself is small and charming, and was full of vintage cars the day of our visit, which of course I was far too excited about.

It’s not somewhere you visit for the shopping or cuisine (unless you love Crayfish, because this is the place to eat it!), but for all of the breathtaking nature that surrounds it. Here you can swim with dolphins in the wild, snorkel with seals, fly over the ocean to spot whales and kayak amongst marine life.

Our first port of call was to visit the sleepy seals on the Kaikoura Peninsula. Here you’ll spot herds of seals all snoozing in the sunshine on the rocks by the sea. Just seconds away from the carpark we spotted one fella having a nap on a rock. Then we just had to follow the other tourists who were gathered near groups further up.

Of course, remaining a respectful distance is a must as not to disturb these wild animals. But they seem very used to it, looking up at you, blinking and then going back to sleep again. I could have stayed for hours watching them!

I think perhaps my favourite moment of our entire trip was out whale watching. We joined a Whale Watching tour, and not long into our journey we had the honour of being in the presence of a blue whale – the largest animal on the planet. We watched as it came up to the surface for air before diving back down into the canyon below us. Even the crew were jumping up and down with excitement – it’s not everyday you come across this magnificent creature.

We moved on a little further and found a sperm whale. I had tears in my eyes – it’s nice to feel small sometimes. Whilst it’s not too easy to make out their shape (they only poke sections of their body out of the water at a time) just being near them was amazing.

On our way back to land our boat was flanked by dolphins, gliding through the water and jumping. Most definitely worth the sea-sickness I was feeling!

I was a lucky guest of Tourism New Zealand for this trip

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