Safari with ‘Wings over Whales’ in Kaikoura

Things to Do — By Heather Hapeta on December 30, 2010 at 3:50 am

Kaikoura is the number one of New Zealand’s eco-marine activities: best of all it’s only two hours north of Christchurch.

New Zealand Geographic called Kaikoura “A maritime Serengeti” and is world famous not only for whale watching, but giant albatross encounters and swimming with Dusky dolphins. Other options include winery tours, horseback riding, kayaking, and surfing. This time I took a flight to spot whales.

I’ve been whale watching by boat but never by air so was looking forward to Wings over Whales despite the frisson of fear I have with small planes. ‘We have a 100% safety record’ a staff member tells me so I relax and climb onboard the 7-seater plane. We all have window seats so I’m hoping for great photos.

“We have a passing parade of different whales’ Monique our pilot says in my earphones. ‘Today we are most likely to see Sperm whales.”

The very blue sea seems to have a frill of white lace where it meets the land and when told a whale has broken the surface a little further north we almost press our faces against the windows, trying to be the first to see our prey. ‘There it is’ someone calls as the pilot turns the plane – she too has seen it. I’m frustrated as I can hear cameras clicking as we circle the giant mammal but shortly we circle in the opposite direction so we too start photographing. I’m feeling a little nauseous but am too excited to be sick. The peninsula is fabulous from up here and I understand why there are plans for a luxury hotel on it.

Before long, and after seeing three whales, we fly over the town, then the braided river as we come in to land – the 30-minutes have gone too quickly and I vow to do this again: as you can tell, I’m recommending  it!

Kaikoura seaward mountains look wonderful

Tags: flying, Kaikoura, whales