After I’d decided that enough time had been spent in Christchurch for now, I looked where I wanted to go and decided that Akaroa would be a good start. I didn’t know much about it except that there was some nice nature there and you could see/swim with dolphins. All in all, interesting enough to try.
So, the evening before I left I booked a seat on the shuttle there and was ready the next morning to be picked up. On the way there we had some stops, in a small town called Little River and later at a place called Hilltop which offered a great view of Akaroa Harbor.
Upon arriving in Akaroa itself, a town that is basically one or two streets along the beach, we stopped next to the harbor. Once again following the first things first principle I and the only other backpacker on the shuttle (a German girl named Anja) went to check on the times for doing the whole swimming with dolphins thing. Which was pretty much immediately, actually 10 minutes ago. Very well, we’d left our backpacks in the shuttle where we could pick them up later in the afternoon so that wasn’t a problem. So, we quickly put on the provided wetsuits and after the necessary instructions we were on our way.
The weather was great, so that helped a lot in making it more fun. Anyway, we moved into the harbor and after finding a pod of dolphins went into the water. It was a lot more fun to actually do this than I expected. It’s really strange to see so many dolphins swimming around you, even though it was a bit hard to see them clearly without my glasses. We stayed in the water for about 45 minutes, which is apparently the maximum allowed time to spent with a single pod of dolphins. A big reason for this is because Hector dolphins are an endangered species, about as rare as a Bengal tiger or Silverback Gorilla.
After returning from the swim it was time to look for a place to spend the night. After all, you didn’t really expect that I would have arranged that beforehand, now did you? Unfortunately, this wasn’t as easy as I expected. The hostels in Akaroa were pretty much full, but eventually we found a place to stay in a nearby town at the Okunu Farm Hostel. This was a 20 minute drive from Akaroa, so luckily we were picked up. This was a nice hostel to stay, and really quiet. I understood that once the season really starts it will be a lot busier though, but I can recommend staying there.
The evening was mostly spent talking and playing games with a couple of Taiwanese girls, and for the morning Anja and I decided to do some walking in the hills. Of course, that morning the weather wasn’t as good as it was the day before, but that didn’t stop us from going anyway. The views were really great from up there, although at some points the actual path to travel was less so due to a bit of rain that had fallen during the night.
Anyway, not much else to say about this. After the walk we asked for a drive back to Akaroa where we would then take the shuttle back to Christchurch. During the bus ride we visited a cheese factory and stopped at a small beach, but not much else. We did have the pleasure of having to arrange a place to sleep as Christchurch was getting fully booked by now. Eventually we did find a place, which was good. Unfortunately it was a place where they had a fat cat as pet, which my allergies didn’t think was good. Oh well, I survived and it was only for a single night anyway as after that I left for Dunedin.