Hello 2012

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Hello 2012! If there’s anything that I should be aware of, it is the fact that my eye bags has doubled in size. *gulp* Why am I even telling you this and inevitably drawing your attention to my eye bags? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the first thing that caught my attention while I was trying to pick a few photos to include in this post. Okay now. Ignore the eye bags just like how you would ignore the pink polar bear in North pole. No, I mean, seriously!

Lili and I on board the French Connection bus to Akaroa

You probably won’t be interested to know that this is the second time within a month that I am almost down with the flu. (Almost, because it’s not flu-blown, uh, I mean, full blown.) Flying back and forth between winter and tropical countries is so not cool. It’s worse when you thought you’re heading to somewhere sunny and suddenly, when you’re there, the sun went hiding behind those thick, grey, sad looking clouds and you realized that you are all decked out in summer attire whereas everyone else are warmly dressed.

Had to wear my pj's over my sundress! *shy*

You see, I was heading towards Christchurch a few days before 2011 ended. I briefly look through the weather forecast (temperature was in the teens) and naively thought I probably wouldn’t need warm clothes. Whatever I read on the forecast mysteriously got overwritten in my brain as sunshine and butterflies. I have no idea how that happened. It was probably because Fern said she was going to bring me to swim with the dolphins, so I packed all my sundresses and a straw hat, too. 8)

…only to be slammed by the cruel reality, when I stepped out of my room. Brr. I dashed back into my room and reemerged with the warmest piece of clothing that I have – my long sleeved black pj top. Oh, well.

How do I get to the stream, sir?

It took us a little less than two hours to reach Akaroa, which is located just 75km away from the city of Christchurch. It’s a scenic little town, with colonial architectures that reminds me fondly of Cameron Highlands. As Fern was not quite ready to meet up with us just yet, Li li and I took a stroll along the shoreline in search of a stream that I sighted while we were on the bus.

The B&B by the stream. Can you spot the bungee jumping doll?

After a bit of a walk, a lot of photos, and a lot of ooh’s and aah’s at the magnificent view that greeted us, we finally found the stream. Li li didn’t really understand why I had to look for this stream. She didn’t know that it was my ultimate dream to have a little cottage over a stream with a bungee jumping doll tied to it. ;)

Yummy fish and chips with massive wrapper

At about noon, we finally met up with Fern who brought along her traveling buddy Claudius. We had fish and chips for lunch, something highly recommended by Fern and the locals. It was yums. :)

Fernie and me with a poster of the Hector dolphin!

Right after lunch, we headed over to the harbor and prepared ourselves for the swim with the Hector dolphins. These dolphins are one of the smallest dolphins and can only be found in New Zealand. They are extremely rare and was listed as threatened species in 1999. What’s interesting about these dolphins is that they have rounded dorsal fins. Yeah, you definitely won’t get a shark scare while they are surfacing to breathe.

All set and ready to go!

We’re all geared up in our wet suits and ready to board the boat. As the water wasn’t expected to be too cold, we were only given wet suits and not dry suits. The boat ride out to the ocean was shivering cold, with the wind blowing and the cold air blasting on your face. I don’t think I want to swim with the dolphins anymore!! Our guide told us the water temperature would be at about 10°c. *gasp*

Li li and one of the swimmer's na na - Our photographers of the day!

Once our guide had determined a good location for swimming, the engines of the boat were turned off,  a flag was raised and pool’s open! Off into the cold water we go. *splash!*

The yellow tube is a flotation device which could double up as a squeaky noise maker to attract the dolphins

We were given goggles and snorkels but were told that the water around the area wouldn’t be clear enough for us to see underwater. Then what were the snorkels and goggles for? To attract the dolphins, of course. We were told to sing, to tap, to blow bubbles to attract the dolphins. So Claudius went singing and whistling away, using his snorkel as his microphone. While Claudius was singing away, I heard someone panting as though he had just run a marathon. I turned around to look and then I see them!

Two hector dolphins were swimming towards us and surfaced to breathe! It felt so amazing to be in the waters and in such close proximity with the dolphins. I wish I could give them a pet, but we were told that they have skin as delicate as those beneath our eye. So, we weren’t allowed to pet them, no matter how close they were swimming around us, for fear that we might accidentally scratch and damage their skin.

After about half an hour, it’s time for us to get out of the waters. We had hot water to shower ourselves with on the boat and a cup of hot chocolate after that before heading back to shore. Thanks Fern, for bringing us here and thank you Li Li for the company and for taking so many wonderful shots. :D

p/s: Someone sent me postcards from the sea! :) I never knew an underwater post office exists! ❤

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One response »

  1. Lizzy,

    What a wonderful experience! Swimming with dolphins in their environment!

    I had a similar experience in Mexico with dolphins in a nature park. While not in the ocean, dolphins are indeed amazing and do enjoy contact with us.

    You need not worry about your eyes, the joy and sparkle they reveal to your readers speaks more to us than you realize.

    Pretty eyes need little help!

    Happy 2012!

    David

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