Honeymoon Day 4: Kaikoura to Blenheim

Today Maegan finally got to go out on a dolphin cruise. Only problem was that there hadn’t been any sitings of dolphins this morning. This sounded like a let down but we thought might as well go out anyways. Five minutes into our journey we found some dolphins. Kaikoura is reknowned for its population of dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) and the 4 to 6 that we saw is a meer shadow on the 500+ groups that have been recorded here. Dusky dolphins can grow to just over 2m and are known for their acrobatics. Our encounter with the dolphins was very fleeting.

Moving on we were priviledged to watch numerous species of sea birds flying and following the boat. My knowledge of sea birds is very low and I am having trouble finding a place to start looking for IDs.

Our most exciting and somewhat unexpected encounter of the day were of Orca (Orcinus orca). Orca (or killer whales) are the largest species of dolphins. Orca are highly intelligent apex predators feeding on numerous other creatures including fish, seals, dolphins, sharks, stingrays and even whales. Male killer whales can measure up to 6-8m long and weigh in excess of 6 tonnes. A males dorsal fin can measure of 180cm! Orcas will hunt in groups (pods) and have a high level of communication and socialising. Maegan was lucky enough to catch a photo of a orca breaching and tail slapping (can be found on her facebook). My favourite shot of the orcas has previously been posted. Instead Ill post a composite of 3 panaramic shots all taken with the 1ds, 17-40. The 17-40 mm lens wasnt the best choice to take out their but it did give me a different perspective.

dolphin encounter composite

Back at “Dolphin Encounters” home base we had a look at some souvenirs. Amongst them was Paua shells. It turns out Paua are a species of large sea snails belonging to the genus Haliotis. This snail can grow up to 18cm across the shell. As you can see from the photo the outside of the shell is a dull whitish colour and the underneath or inside of the shell is a beautiful blue opal like colour. These shells are very popular in the making of jewellery. Unfortunately this leads to exploitation of this species and illegal harvesting. Under fishing rules this species can only be collected by free diving and a limit on size and catch is implemented. Unfortunately this is followed by few and it is believed that nearly 1000 pounds per year is collected illegally. Paua is also a popular food with the fleshy foot of this creature being edible. (30d, 60mm, iso 1600, f6.3, 1/60)

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Back to the bbq fish shop for lunch. This time I had the seafood chowder which was amazing. Absolutely lovely. Next time we go back hopefully we’ll be able to afford the local delicacy, crayfish. (1ds, 17-40, f6.3, 1/1000)

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It was time to leave lovely Kaikoura and head north towards Blenheim. Blenheim is one of NZ’s famous wine  areas (particularly Savignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) often going under the name of the region Marlborough. The drive to Blenheim showed some very cool landscapes including what is typical of New Zealands South Island, rolling green fields with you guessed it… Sheep! (1ds, 17-40, f8, 1/320)

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Moving closer to Blenheim we moved into wine country. Vineyards make very nice scenery, yet I find them surprisingly hard to shoot. This vineyard was about an hour away from Blenheim. (1ds, 17-40mm, f8, 1/125). The one we stopped at was one of NZ’s biggest. Montana Estate. This is only one of Montana’s many vineyards. I had fun trying different wines and walked away with a wine called “Late Harvest” which is a desert wine made from Riesling. We were pretty tired by the time we arrived and didnt do much exploring.

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This last photo is a panarama of the mountains that surrounds Blenheim and includes a field that is being prepared to be planted. I liked the text in the soil and the shadows on the mountains. (1ds, 17-40, f8, 1/400)

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~ by adamrose on May 30, 2009.

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