Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Whiting Christmas: Part 3 - Wild Seals and Cherry Picking

The ocean was too rough in Kaikoura, so we couldn't go whale watching.  It didn't look that bad outside, but hey, they know what they are talking about... They offered us a time later in the afternoon, but we couldn't spend another whole day there.  So we moved along toward Nelson, trusting that there was surely a reason that we had to miss the whales.  And sure enough, not even 30 minutes drive up the coast we found something amazing...

It was another rocky shore, more lush hillside.  You may notice some large dark things down there..

SEALS!!  The rocks were covered with wild seals.  All different ages and temperaments.  There was an overhang by the road we walked out on that was a few meters above the level they were on.  It got us closer than you could get in a zoo even without getting too close.  This guy was curious about us...

This guy was the closest one too us and loved the camera...  He posed great for pictures.  He didn't seem to mind us being a stones throw away.  He just sat and rolled around enjoying the sun and the rocks. 

Anyone know the difference between a seal and a sea lion?  Well lots of things, but they say an easy one is sea lions have ear flaps.  Also they have longer, hairless fore-flippers that they can prop up on.  Seals are fatter with smaller fore-flippers so they can't prop up so proudly.  That being said these have the posture and shape of a sea lion, but I think they are in fact New Zealand fur seals.  Don't ask me why, because they have ear flaps and everything.  If there are any zoologists out there I'd love your input... :)

They were pretty territorial.  There was quite a bit of fighting going on down there.  They'd bark at each other a little bit, maybe a little biting, and one of them would be on their way.

We got some video for you!  Here's our friend up close and a few of his buddies waddling down the shore.  He is looking pretty lazy... good way to spend an afternoon.  These are HD videos, so if you have the connection speed, turn up the quality and watch them full screen.  

Here's a couple of seals halfheartedly fighting over the best spot to be lazy...  Don't let them fool you, I hear they have a pretty wicked bite.

This is my favorite one.  A smaller seal found a small ocean side pool and he is taking a bath and playing peek-a-boo...  adorable...

It was a crazy stretch.  For about 10 kilometers the whole ocean front looked like this, just covered in seals.  At one stop we counted over a hundred in our field of view.  They can be tricky to pick out because they blend into the rock.  How many can you count?  We forgot quickly that we didn't get to see the whales... :)

So that's what it looked like out to sea.  All down the coast we were looking at land like this inland.  There was a nice waterfall randomly across the road from where we were seal watching.

Back on the road to Nelson, we happened across a nice pick-your-own cherry farm.  Acres and acres of blooming cherry trees (net protected above from the many local birds).

Delicious, plump cherries.  Mouth-watering...

The trees were full of them.. hard to pick the best ones from so many...

My beautiful bride with our cherry haul...  It didn't take us long to eat them all... :)

Next stop Abel Tasman!

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