The Steam Dreams Rail Co is running a 3 week tour of New Zealand in October 2022. See http://www.steamdreams.co.uk for more info.
This blog reveals how the research trip scoping out the tour panned out.
Day 6 – I was up early for the promise of ticking something off my bucket list – swimming with dolphins. Marcus drove me to the Kiwi version of a seaside town – a long strip of shops and motels along the coast. I checked in (standing out among the young couples and travelling twenty-somethings) and was soon head to toe in neoprene (not a good look with my physique, but I don’t think the sea-life really cared). Off on a short bus-ride to the nearby South Bay and then onto a boat, along with 15 or so others.
Within 15 minutes, we were out at sea and spotted not only dolphins but three humped-back whales. I had to pinch my own finger tips to stop myself crying. After a while of whale-watching, we moved on to find another pod of dolphins and we were allowed to slide off the back of the boat and swim with them. All in all, there were about 100 wild dusky dolphins, swimming with us, jumping out of the water, doing acrobatics – the works! Incredible.
Back on the boat, my sea-legs had run off and I was feeling too queasy to enjoy the return to shore, but the rest of the guests enjoyed watching these amazing creatures swim alongside the boat.
Marcus, Marianne and Ben found me at the Dolphin Encounter building and we had another bite to eat before scoping out the local accommodation options – there are lots of options in Kaikoura, but a limited number of rooms in each property. This is going to prove challenging for those managing the hotels on the tour, but it’s going to be worth it to stay in this gem of a location.
The proximity of snow-covered mountains and the glorious vibrant blue sea is simply awe-inspiring. No photo can do it justice. You need to see it for yourself.
No time to waste though on this whistle-stop tour – back in the car and off to Christchurch. Another jaw-dropping city with so many stories to tell.