Welcome to the September edition of the #BlogAlong party that Pooja, Upasna and I get going, month on month. Previously we shared our blog-stories about the food we loved, the travel must-packs and our growing up memories. However this month we want to invite you all to share your stories. In the month of September, the #BlogAlong link up is an OPEN HOUSE. Any and all bloggers can join in and link up their food stories, travel stories, me stories, you stories…..and so on. I have made some great, new friends through this link up and want to make and meet more awesome bloggers out there.
Keeping with the theme that there is no theme, I am going to share a travel story. I visited South Island in New Zealand, in the month of May this year and before leaving had prepared a long list of things I wanted to experience. Remember this post from the airport? The stories from NZ are long overdue on the blog and I am finally starting to pen them down. Yay.
Well, I am happy to tell you that I managed to tick off almost everything off that list. And I started my trip with the thing that I was MOST excited about: SEAL PUPS. in the WILD.
When we were planning for the trip and making a list of things that had to be done, everyone put in their 2 cents: Milford Sound, Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, Glenorchy, etc etc and then I jumped in with Kaikoura. Kaikoura what? Why? Because you get to see seal pups in the wild there, frolicking around in waterfalls. This HAD to be done.
Kaikoura is a 2.5 hrs drive from Christchurch, but if you are a traveller like us, who stops every few minutes to marvel at the sights, click dozens of pictures, take a few loo breaks (it was winters, people), then you have to allow yourself the luxury of 3-4 hours for sure. But the drive is totally worth it. In fact, it is worth it in the entire country of NZ, but this was our first day on the roads there and we just couldn’t stop WOW-ing at everything we saw around us. The clear blue skies, the sparkling aquamarine waters, the striking greenery, it was all spectacular.
Also, on the drive from to Kaikoura, do also allow yourself some time for a relaxed and elegant lunch break at the Waipara Hills vineyard. It was a chance discovery for us, but would highly recommend it for the crisp whites, and the crisper, fresher seafood treats they prepare. Slurrp.
Coming back to the subjects of my post, the seal puppies. To see these seal pups in the wild, you have to go slightly further ahead of the town of Kaikoura, to the Ohau Stream Waterfall, about a half an hour of a drive. It’s like a giant creche, for seal pups. The seal mothers give birth in the month of April, and from April till November, these pups stay in this general area; staying mostly in the Ohau stream, and swimming over to the other side where the stream joins the ocean, to meet their moms once in 15-20 days. Sounds harsh? Don’t be sad. It’s okay. it’s all part of their safety and growing up lessons. It’s because the moms go out hunting and foraging for food for themselves and their pups, and the stronger currents, plus the increased predatory nature of the ocean is not right for the pups just yet.
So they make the Ohau stream their home for the next few months, building on their social, swimming, foraging, and predatorial skills, with other young pups. Like I said, a wildlife creche where pups rule and play. Which is also a major tourist spot because who doesn’t enjoy watching animals untroubled in their natural habitat.
I was warned that seals aren’t the cutest things ever, but come on how uncute could they be, especially little pups. And as we approached the waterfall, I heard pup barks and squeals and saw this bundle
The fact that I had just seen a giant-ass seal try to kill huskies in a movie last night was the only reason I stopped myself from leaping into the water to pick these pups up for a cuddle. Hey, I don’t want to mess with their mama, OR the fact they could bite me too!
But seriously, how cute are they? And those eyes. They were like floating sausages in water, with big button eyes.
There were a couple of pups playing at the entrance to the walkway and some of the tourists returning from the waterfall told us that there were many more right at the waterfall itself, so we should definitely keep going. And we did. As you walk towards the waterfall, the trees get taller, and it gets darker and much more shaded than the approach outside. As a result, what you see is what you might not be able to capture.
So we saw a group of 40 odd seal pups playing and jumping in and out of the stream at the waterfall and you would think that the humans would be loud and obtrusive, but na-uh. These seal pups were loud, wild, and as curious about us as we were about them. There were 2 pups, on the other side of the stream, and they hopped and swam across all the way to where we were to gaze at us, with their wide eyes, and then pose for some pictures.
So they posed and we clicked. And they loved it. Hopefully. The social skills index went skyrocketing, Imma guessing.
Happy with what we had seen, we decided to head back but not before capturing some breathtaking shots of the beautiful Kaikoura sunset. That sky just kept getting spectacular with each day we spent there.
Things to Make Note Of
- Factor in an extra 1-2 hours of time to your travel time to Ohau, simply because the drive is stunning and most of the road network in NZ is single lane. Account for that extra hour.
- Seals are spotted all over the NZ countryside, closer to coastal areas and villages. They are to Kiwis what the roos are to the Aussies. While the North Island will have its share of seal pup sights, Ohau is the most popular in the South Island.
- Refrain from petting or touching the pups. Remember these are wild animals and also the fact that you don’t want to scare them away from how comfortable they feel around you
- On the other side of the stream is the beach at the banks of the ocean, where you will see the bigger, grown up seals resting and sunning themselves on the rock. That’s a sight worth seeing too, but from a suitable distance please
- Fellow blogger Laia visited the seals too and she wrote a wonderful post about it here. Please do read if you want more information about Kaikoura and around. I was plainly obsessed with the animals only, as you can see.
- Also, Liz from Young Adventuress had a brilliant post on the seals which kind of led me to discover them too. So thanks a ton Liz! Read her post here
Hope you get to visit the seal pups too. And if you, please do let me know how was your experience. NZ is a delight, for all things beautiful; sights, sounds, animal, and I couldn’t get my fill even though I spent a luxurious-but-not-enough 7 days there. Will keep sharing the NZ stories as I have finally started. phew
This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That and Shruti from MszKnowitall. This month the forum is open for all bloggers to link up with their stories: travel, food, lifestyle, personal, animal; the link up is your oyster people and it’s time to dig out the treasure troves of memories and stories!
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