Mom and I got up super early our last day on the South Island to take a tour with Encounter Kaikoura. These folks know their stuff, I highly recommend them. It was probably one of the best tours I've ever been on, definitely worth getting up at 4:30am for.
You know when a tour advertises swimming with dolphins and you picture your arse freezing in the ocean while you bob around, squinting at the occasional fin breaking the surface 100 metres away? Well, this was unbelievably better than that. There were times when I was surrounded by half a dozen dolphins swimming circles around me within arms reach.
On the boat ride out we were instructed to hum or squeak to the dolphins, that it would pique their curiosity, and that they loved it when you dove with them. A side benefit being that we would also entertain the crew on the boat with our antics. At the time I was thinking, "No way am I going to make a fool of myself. Squeaking and swallowing water trying to dive with a snorkel. Ha!" But, within a few minutes I was squeaking away with the best of them. Half way through I overcame my aversion to swallowing salt water and tried diving. I should have done that from the get go.
Sorry for the blurry photos, I was having so much fun that taking pix was mostly an afterthought.
Listening to tips from the guide.
Gotta love a sunrise over the ocean.