Swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand

Sat with Ruth in Te Anau after finishing The Milford Track with a couple of pints of the local ale we made some decisions. If we wanted to carry on travelling for the next 7 months at least, then we’d need to make some sacrifices (maybe starting with the pints of local ale?!). From now on we would allow each other just a couple of the ‘big things’ (activities like rafting, kayaking, sky diving, wine tasting etc.).

First off my list was bungee jumping. No thank you.

And so we found ourselves back in Akaroa, the ‘French’ town we’d visited 3 weeks earlier, Ruth getting more and more excited about “giving a dolphin a cuddle”.

We stayed for a second time at Onuku Farm Hostel, a cosy little place just out of town with a great vibe and lovely views out across the bay. We’d highly recommend the place, it’s very reasonably priced and has a choice of rooms from tiny little ‘stargazers’ (just a place to rest your head outside) to pitches for camping with an outdoor kitchen and bathroom. Perfect.

Sadly, swimming with dolphins had to be cut from my list but it was right up there on Ruth’s, I’d stay on the boat and take some snaps while Ruth took the plunge. It took about 3 seconds in the company office for that to change. They said that there was one space left for me to join the fun, and knowing we were short on funds offered me the chance to swim for half the price.

Hectar's Dolphins

Hectar's Dolphins - an endangered species.

Hectar’s dolphins are some of the rarest in the world, an endangered species we were told by the charismatic captain of the boat, and we certainly would not be touching them. Ruth’s whole body physically dropped at this little piece of news along with at least 6 of the other eager dolphin huggers. Poor old Ruth. They feel like that piece of skin just under your eye apparently and that knowledge will have to do. Ruth wanted proof.

Ruth singing to the Hectar's Dolphins

Ruth singing her heart out to the Hectar's Dolphins.

It was cold. Icy icy cold, the sort of cold that makes you wonder where your genitals have gone. Once our breath had returned at last we sang into our snorkels, told jokes, danced the conga (that’s what you do to get them excited enough to come and play don’t you know) and in a couple of short minutes they were surrounding us spinning and diving within a few inches of us. It was amazing, worth every penny. How many chances do you get to swim with an endangered species?

I hopped out of the water leaving the rest of the group to their singing and dancing, dried off quickly, and got the camera out to try and get some pictures.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

First glimpse of the Hectar's dolphins.

First glimpse.

Akaroa

Hectar's Dolphin

Hectar's Dolphins

Hectar's Dolphins

Tiny and beautiful.

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