After mostly packing the previous evening I was up at some ungodly hour* to checkin for the Whale Watch on time. *As in check in first, watch sunrise second. A pretty sunrise though although as sandgroper at heart I still think that oceans are meant for sunsets not sunrises.
The whale watch is very professionally operated by one of the Maori tribes with four fast catamarans and some quite interesting presentations onboard during the transits. I saw three sperm whales and a pod of dusky dolphins. The boat keeps a respectable distance from the whales, but the dolphins came as close as they pleased (very). It turns out that the Kaikoura Canyon is in essence the adolescent boys club for Sperm Whales which I was quite amused by.
Apparently the ladies have the sense to hang out in warmer waters...
I met the others when the catamaran returned to South Bay - some had been swimming with dolphins, others had walked over the Kaikoura peninsula whilst Phillip had ridden from Kaikoura around 8ish. We drove in pursuit of Phillip who had come back to the 28Km mark to encourage others to start riding earlier than the summit. I did not fall for this as I was not in the mood for the steep long climb that would have followed and waited for the 51Km mark to get started.
From there it was mostly downhill with some shortish climbs to Waiau for lunch. A good ride with good scenery on a sunny day. The only downside was the large number of roadworks in progress or recently completed. New chipseal is better than gravel but still not all that much fun to deal with. Maintaining control on a steep switchbacked descent with new chipseal was definitely nervewracking - it would have been fun with a good surface though.
After lunch there was another short ride and we packed up for the day and the Beach to Beech tour. An exchanging of email addresses etc ensued and there may be an exchange of photos later. :)
And now the stats:
Rest day tomorrow then I think it is on to the Milford Experience. Yay!