Friday, 16 March 2012

Punakaiki to Kaikoura

We left Franz straight after our heli hike and travelled 3 hours north to Punakaiki - home to the pancake rocks. 

The Pancake Rocks are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay. The seabed was raised above sea level by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations visible today.

Mmmmm pancakes

A number of blowholes have been formed at Punakaiki, but we arrived about an hour after high tide so only one was still blowing - the chimney pot and we had to wait ages to get this shot! 

Worth the wait!

More grey skies!

We left the west coast early the next morning and made our way up and over the Alps and through the middle of the South Island to Kaikoura - home to the 'world famous' whale watching tours.  We arrived to find the beach being savaged by huge waves and the boats were all sat in the harbour as it was too rough!  So we went and drank wine and watched the football highlights!

The next morning was a little less windy and our cruise was on for 2pm.  We spent the morning on the peninsula, watching the seals chilling out on the beach!

It's a hard life!

We arrived at the harbour to hear that the wind was about 30 knots and the sea had 'a long lazy swell'. We popped a sea sickness pill and climbed on.  Within 15 minutes we had our first sighting!

Over there!

The waters around Kaikoura are home to a number of Sperm Whales, a toothed whale with the biggest brain of any animal and they can grow in excess of 20m long.  They dive to depths of over 3000m to feed on Giant and Colossal Squid for up to an hour per dive.

Here are a few photos from our 2 hour cruise where we saw 3 separate sperm whales (the last photo is not a sperm whale!).

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