The most popular place for whale watching in New Zealand is Kaikoura but I would like to venture that an even better one is the city where most travellers arrive: Auckland.
I’ve done both and it was not without surprise that enjoyed myself more in the second one. In Kaikoura, you sail around the same part of the peninsula and you wait until the captain spot a whale. However, in Auckland you can relax on the front deck and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Hauraki Gulf, passing next to Rangitoto and the western bays of Waiheke Island. Far away on the horizon you can even see the Coromandel Peninsula.
The day I went on the tour, the weather was a little bit overcast but it was warm enough to go outside and wait for our first encounter on the deck. Not even an hour after taking off, we spotted our first Bryde’s Whale wandering along, chasing her food. Then a few meters away, another one... and another one…
In less than half an hour we had already seen four different whales and many sea birds such as the famous gannets. We saw so many in such a little time - so it was time to look for dolphins! And just ten minutes later we encounter a huge pod, with at least a hundred of common dolphins. What an overwhelming feeling to see them swimming and playing around the boat: suddenly, everybody is ten years old again and the sea is Disneyland!
We were even lucky enough to see a mummy and her little calf - how precious! The captain of the boat spots another whale and turn the boat around. And there was our fifth or sixth whale of the day, it was easy to lost count.
This is the kind of afternoon that goes very fast, and after a few hours it is already time to head back to the city. On our way, another group of dolphins join us, using the waves of the boat as a free ride. The captain let us enjoy them for a few minutes, and take our last photos, before turning the engine at its maximum leaving this beautiful creatures behind us.
Oh what a day!
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