Wednesday morning I woke up about 7.30 when my alarm went off - I'm not used to being around people 24/7 and wanted some alone time, but didn't complain when Alkaline-kiwi crawled out of bed with me - as my BBFF (Bookcrossing Best Friend Forever) I knew she wouldn't mind being quiet together, and we went and found a quiet spot behind the backpackers. Pepper, the hostel cat soon found us, and got the attention he deserved!
After a while I got into the shower, got dressed, and cooked some porridge for myself. We all packed ourselves up, I got a few minutes on the internet to make journal entries for the book I'd released the previous day, and the ones I'd left on the hostel bookshelf.
We left the hostel around 10, somehow managing to forget our bags of food - hopefully some other backpackers found it and enjoyed it, with A-K, and Skyring and i in one car, and Earok, K-j-h, and MissMarkey in the other. LOTR was still in the cd player, so we enjoyed the music for a little bit longer until A-K took it out (slightly to my disappointment!). We stopped a few times on the way down, the South Island is truly magnificent, and I feel totally justified in telling tourists that if they have limited time, they'd do better to see it than the North Island!
By the time we hit Kaikoura we didn't really have much time for lunch, so we headed straight to the 'Whaleway Station' (yes, it's really called that!) to check in for our 12.45 tour. Luckily we had a bit of time between checking in and our instructional video, so we went and had some lunch at the cafe. Totally over priced and not of the best quality, I guess they rely on people like us to make money! Surely they can't rely on repeat business much :s
After lunch we released a few books, and then crowded into a small annex for the video, describing what to do in an emergency, and some of the things we might see, and then we got on the bus to the boat. Took about 10 minutes to drive around to the marina, where our boat awaited us, and we all piled off, and waited to be able to embark. Unfortunately we were right at the back, and so didn't get seats together, but I sat with a man and his two children who were really nice! It was a bit rough, and he felt a bit sick, so I passed round the barley sugars!
As we were sailing out into the deeper waters, the tour guide told us a bit about why Kaikoura is known for its whales, and other marine mammals (deep trough under the sea that goes down suddenly, really close to land, so you only have to go out a little bit to be over really deep ocean, that sperm whales like). He also told us about the kinds of animals we were likely to see, and how this tour company found them, which was really interesting! They seem to be really dedicated to not using anything that would harm the whales, so they don't use those undersea scanners that you see on boats these days! First thing we saw were some different sea birds (including some a small variety of the albatross!).
A bit later we had a message from another boat that was out that they'd seen a whale, and so we went over to meet it. Amazing! You could just see it's huge back, and when you consider how much of the whale is tail, it made me feel rather small! I took a few pics, but it was kind of hard to make out, so I just enjoyed watching the whale (whose name is Manu, because his tail looks like a flying bird), and trying not to fall over (it was a bit rough!). The tour guy (whose name I've forgotten, but he was really cute :p) gave us a few seconds notice before the Manu was about to go back down for more food, and so I got a video of Manu's tail doing down. Truly magnificent. We all traipsed back into the cabin, and the tour guide told us a bit about Manu, who is apparently a regular!
Amazingly, we then get word that another whale has been sighted, so we moseyed on over to the second whale, Tutu, named after a Maori god! Got some more pics of this one before it dove under the water and it was time for us to head back to shore.
On the way back to shore however, we spotted a HUGE pod of dolphins - mostly dusky, with a few common swimming with them. This was the highlight of the whale watching for me - I love whales, but dolphins just inspire a feeling of joy in my heart! Took LOTS of photos and a couple of videos of these as we were heading back.
Once we got back to shore we disembarked and waited for a few minutes to get onto the bus.
The bus drove us back to the 'Whaleway Station', and we met A-K and Earok there, who had been looking around Kaikoura while we were out whale watching. We all checked out the shop a bit, and our books that we'd released before the tour, and then made our way back to the cars, where we did a bit of shuffling, and took some pics of the group using Skyring's tripod.
MissMarkey and I ended up in K-j-h's car, so that Skyring could drop A-K and Earok at A-K's aunt and uncles place, and because K-j-h, MissMarkey and I were all staying at Base Backpackers.
Drive wasn't too bad, Kev let me choose the music so I was happy! At some point I got a text from Kirsty saying Libertine101 had been talking to Newk, who had texted Skyring, saying there had been a mistake at the backpackers. I couldn't get any more details, and thoughts that we wouldn't have anywhere to stay for the week floating through my mind :s
We stopped just out of Christchurch to get petrol and milk (for me), and we got into Christchurch relatively easily. Well, relatively easy for MissMarkey and I anyway. After circling around the backpackers twice, and not finding a car part, Kev dropped us off outside, and went to look for a park. We checked in, found out that the issue was that we weren't all in the same room, as requested. I couldn't be bothered finding somewhere else to stay, so figured I'd stay there, and so we got given keys etc, and went to drop our stuff off up stairs. I was on the 4th flour, and MM was on the second floor. We took the lift up (we both had a quite a collection of stuff), which was an experience in itself. The lift (and building) are REALLY old - you have to open the outer door, and then the inner door of the lift to get in, and then shut them behind you, and its not particularly fast! Problem is if someone forgets to shut both doors when they get out it gets stuck and won't go anywhere...but it was ok this time, and we both got our stuff to our rooms, and I grabbed my camera, wallet and hat to take to dinner at Ginkgo, which Newk had organised.
MM and I met Kev down on the ground floor, he checked in, and we eventually made our way to Ginkgo, after asking directions at reception! Walked the wrong way down one road, but not too far, and we were only a little late for dinner!
I let Pete's table know that they should just order something for him, as he had texted/rang/somehow communicated to me that he was running later than we were!
Was SO cool to meet heaps of new people - Gizmopuddy, Bookworm76, and the Trolls were definite highlights!! And it was great to see all the 'old' faces too!
My table decided to just tell the waitress we wanted so many vegetarian dishes and let her choose something for us, which worked out really well! We got some delicious dishes...the beans were particularly memorable :p
After I finished eating, I went over to the other table to say hi - got to meet the Trolls which was exciting!! A bit later Skyring played a nasty prank on the other table...the table we were at had an extremely spicy chicken, that only a few people had tried - he tried a bit, declared it spicy, so went and took the other tables last jug of water, taking the chicken in return...I didn't hear *too* many squeals!
Once we'd sorted out the bill (I think we were the last people left in the restaurant), we all went outside and chatted for a bit longer. Newk wanted to try on my hat, so we swapped, I got his 'dark side' glasses, and he got my 'light side' hat'! We both looked remarkable good :p
Eventually we got cold and I know I was feeling tired, so those of us staying at Base made our way back, and headed to bed. I felt sorry for my roommates, being kept awake by my comings and goings, late at night and fairly early in the mornings!! I fell asleep pretty quickly I think!