We spent five nights in Christchurch and it was a bit of a fugue. We were all tired and because of the devastating earthquakes in the area in 2010 and 2011, holiday apartments are few and far between. Scott found us a great place though, it was just a bit out in the middle of the suburbs. The Christchurch experience turned out fine though, the internet at our place was fast, so important these days that I should write a blog about it, we walked and ran on the paths in our neighborhood, the kids had a lot of time to work on school, we visited the Christchurch Botanical Gardens (quite the treat) and Scott got to windsurf. And of course, there are always those unexpected things that can magically appear at the least expected times. I had a conversation with a cab driver who randomly asked me what I thought about Sea World. The conversation went from Sea World to swimming with wild dolphins and he recommended Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa, about an hour from Christchurch.
The cab driver told me that the tour was great, the kids could swim with wild dolphins and it was very safe. Sounded good to me, so I booked the last two swimming spots on the boat for the next day and off we went for more New Zealand driving, which Scott adores, and a little adventure.
There are only twelve swimmers per tour and then a handful of people who want to watch. We cruised along looking for a pod of happy mammals. Black Cat Cruises is eco-tourism certified and does not track or feed the dolphins. They just drive their dolphin friendly boat around until someone spots the “mickey mouse ear” looking fin of the dolphins or dolphins start chasing the boat. The boat stops and if the dolphins stay near the boat and seem interested, the swimmers get in the water. The dolphins are usually playful and friendly and have a great time jumping and diving around the people in the water, but it is all according to the whims of the dolphins. If they are not in the mood, the tour moves on to find dolphins that feel like interacting.
The dolphins are Hector’s Dolphins, the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world, found only in New Zealand and the backdrop for the fun is Akaroa Harbor, a flooded crater of an extinct volcano.
Often the dolphins would swim up to the kids without the kids noticing.
The dolphins were attracted to Ashley especially and I heard the people mentioning this to the boat driver. On both occasions, his reply was that this activity is one that “you get out of what you put in” and that the dolphins were attracted to her because she was constantly moving and when they swam up to her she would swim with them or dive with them.
The dolphins kept her busy.
The wet suits were very “float-y.”
When the dolphins weren’t entertaining them, they entertained each other.
They were facing the right way to see these fellows.
This group of five spent a couple of minutes playing with Ashley right before everyone got called back on the boat. When she climbed aboard, there were tears in her eyes and she didn’t have anything to say, not like her at all. She has since said that swimming with the Hector’s Dolphins was one of the highlights of her trip and she loved it so much because she felt like she was truly interacting with them. They were wild and it was their choice to play with her.
Here she is telling the guides all about her last few minutes in the water with the five dolphins. The man on the right is the one who kept saying, “you get out of it what you put it in” and I know that there is truth in that for many things. The day turned out to be a wonderful memory for all of us.