It snowed in Auckland yesterday. To most (including myself), that might not seem like a very interesting statement – it is winter down here after all. To talk to Kiwis however, you’d think the world might be ending. It hasn’t snowed in Auckland in 70+ years. It actually snowed almost all over New Zealand over the last couple of days – it reached 2C where I’m staying, traditionally the warmest area of New Zealand during the winter. It is COLD. The lack of proper insulation in the buildings here are especially noticeable when it gets this cold.
Still, when I got up this morning the weather looked wonderful. Blue skies, sunshine and lollipops.
It didn’t take long for that delightful weather to change however. Even just leaving Paihia/Russell, we were being chased by ominous looking clouds.
Before the storm hit though, the waters werecalm and we chanced upon the smallest type of penguin in the world – the blue penguin. Really cute little thing, it was less than 40cm long.
We headed out further towards the pacific, and the rains started.
But, then we found what we were looking for – bottlenose dolphins!
It was just a set of 3 of them, a large female and two smaller males named ‘The Midgets’. Many of the dolphins are identifiable now by the tour organizers since they have distinct personalities. This female (can’t recall her name) almost always has the Midgets in tow, and love to sit in front of the boats and ride the pressure wave generated. Sure enough, that’s what they did for a little bit, providing some fun for photographers. The heavy rain kept our outdoor time down though.
Unfortunately with only 3 dolphins (tours often find much larger pods), and stormy seas, I wasn’t able to swim with them. That was disappointing, as was the fact we didn’t find any other dolphins, or sea life for that matter (whales are also around sometimes during this time of year). But we did end up at the ‘Hole in the Rock’, a large outcropping at the end of the bay, where the Pacific ocean takes over.
All in all, a pretty disappointing trip. Nothing to do with the tour itself – the captain and others were excellent, as was the boat. But the weather was dreadful and bitter cold – it was 6C during the rain storm. I had 4 layers (short sleeve, two long sleeves, and a waterproof jacket), and STILL came back chilled to the bone. I took a hot shower upon returning to Paihia, and haven’t ventured out again today. Just too cold! Warmth should hopefully be returning in a few days – I say hopefully since I might be gardening come Friday as I start my next WWOOFing experience in Kerikeri tomorrow evening!