If dogs are man’s best friend, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call seals merman’s best friend. Seals, much like dogs, are remarkably playful and inquisitive but can also be highly territorial. The fact that seals are pretty cute and make weird bark-like noises doesn’t hurt the comparison either.
Kaikoura, on the South Island’s northeast coast, is a highly touristic stopping point. Chockful of hotels, hostels, b&bs, and tourist parks (an assortment of hotel rooms, cabins, RV hookups, and camping spots), this is a town famed for sea kayaking, whale watching, and dolphin swimming. We, however, went for the swimming with seals excursion.
Absolutely clumsy on land as they use their strange flippers to haul and hobble themselves across rocky outcroppings, seals are graceful as ballet dancers in the water. They spin, dive, and twirl by, investigating these odd flippered and masked creatures who join them in the water.
The water was cold and choppy, the wind high, and frigid water kept leaking into the arm and neck holes of the wet suits we were (luckily) wearing. But, swimming alongside a seal as it cruised through the water was absolutely worth the discomfort. And Win really went for it, making Olympia laps with a couple of seals who seemed to enjoy his company.