So far, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done is go on this dolphin explorer tour in Russell on our third day in New Zealand (21 December 2018). Of course, this wasn’t expected since the tour itself was focused on two main things: 1) visiting a hole in a rock and 2) possibly seeing some dolphins.
Let me skip posting about those things for a second and just talk about the boat and the experience of riding on it. The boat came with a fully stocked bar (very small and family-friendly). They also had free sunscreen. One of their drinks was a very hot, hot cocoa. It was great for warming my frozen, wind battered, picture-taking hands while it was still too hot to drink. My freezing hands cooled the too hot, hot cocoa rather quickly making it the perfect drinking temperature and straight out delicious (it was really good).
Ok, enough about the hot cocoa and onto the ride.
For 99% of the boat tour I was outside in the front of the boat taking pictures and letting wind and the sea rush past me. Unfortunately, all that rushing wind made it practically impossible to hear what “Kiwi Conrad” was saying (not his name - he just reminds my parents of their former employee, Conrad - he was laid back, made great jokes, and totally nerded out over what he was talking about (in a good way)).
Onto the best part of the tour was our boat suddenly slowing down so we could see and “play” with some orcas (aka killer whales) that were hanging about.
This was in addition to the dolphins we saw later on in the tour which were also really cool but very common for the area unlike the orcas which “Kiwi Conrad” said he had never seen so many playful orcas (there were two pods of them) ever in his twenty one years of living there.
Of course, like all good things, something had to spoil the experience just a little bit. That little bit being the orcas for the majority of their time showed themselves only on the right side of the boat (I was standing on the left) which was surrounded by tourists (including some quite tall tourists). Tall tourists plus me equal a picture of the back of someone’s head (many, many of these pictures) and my growing frustration.
Thankfully the killer whales did come to my side of the boat eventually and overall my pictures turned out great. I just really wished I was taller or in front the whole time.
Editor's Note: Here are a few more of Sam's cool shots from the trip.
We did get to see (and the boat went through) the famous Hole in the Rock. The boat is getting ready to power through.
Here is some video of actually going through the hole.
And this is the look back from the other side of the Hole in the Rock.
And finally, we can't leave you without giving you a glimpse at Samantha's favorite photo to date (from a building in the town of Russell):