Last holidays I took my son August, and his friend Jeff, on the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari. Hoping, like most, to see a whale!
This was the 3rd time I had rescheduled for the trip, but it was by far the best day of all. Sunny, mild and not even a slight breeze. I had packed lunch and treats for the kids and we were all in good spirits.
I was particularly excited as a friend and colleaugue of mine from work was crewing on the boat that day, an extra stroke of good fortune.
After a friendly and professional safety briefing, along with a captain's greeting, we were off through the viaduct and out under the Te Wero draw bridge, which the boys thought was very cool.
It was calm and bright out on the water, our boat ride was very smooth and the crew entertained us with facts, figures and stories. They took a sample from the ocean at 20m deep, teeming with microbes and tiny jellyfish. Not much water, yet so much life and movement in such a small jar!
Although the day was brilliant, around the 2 hour mark, the restlesness was palpable amoungst the passengers.
Lunch was long over and we were all waiting for the main attraction...marine mammals.
There was a good selection of books about the marine life and other related subjects. Amoungst these was the book by Witi Ihimaera "The Whale Rider" I sat out on the deck and began to read this story about a stubborn Grandfather and the tribe from the East Cape who descended from the Great whale, Paikea. I consciously began to silently call out for any whales around to grace us with their presence....Not 5 minutes after I finished the story, the captain called out, "Thaar she blows!"
We all strained to see a small blow-hole fountain in the distance...
Brydes Whale #117 heard my calling (haha) and breached, waved and dived with us for just over an hour. It was unexpectedly a very moving experience for me, I cried a little bit and in my head, thanked this rare and majestic creature for coming. It hurts to know that we are responsible for the decline of these mammals, but it is reassuring to know that the team at Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari are commited to the cause of conservation of the whales in and around the Hauraki Gulf.
Heading back to the Waitemata Harbour, a large pod of dolphins rode our wake. I stood out on the front of the boat with my friend Tony, Titanic style, and we re-capped the highlights of the day, welcomed back to the city fold by the glittering lights of the Auckland Viaduct once more.