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Kaikoura seals

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kaikoura, on the north-east coast of New Zealand's south island, is the whale-watching capital of the world. But there is another mammal competing for attention there — and that's the New Zealand fur seal.

Seals are widespread around New Zealand and on the sub-Antarctic islands. There is also a small population in Western Australia. They were hunted to the brink of extinction by early European settlers, but the population is now estimated to be between 50-60,000 and increasing by two percent every year.

There are several colonies around Kaikoura Peninsula. Females give birth to a single pup every year from maturity, between four and six, until they die at around 14. Males mature between five and six years, but are unlikely to be mature enough to defend their territory for another three years.

Fur seals forage at sea for up to eight days, returning to shore to rest and suckle pups. When seen lying on rocks, they are not sunbathing, merely resting.

They have a thick fur coat over a thick layer of blubber, so are well insulated at sea. When ashore, they are vulnerable to overheating, so periodically enter the water to cool down. This is where your fun comes in.

Seal Swim Kaikoura is a family-owned company and has been operating since 1987. It caters solely to seal swimmers and likes to keep groups small, as the seals respond better. There will be someone with you the entire time in the shallow waters, ensuring you enjoy the simple but marvellous experience. The operators work diligently at ensuring the seals' natural behavioural patterns are not disturbed. Fur seals are curious, friendly and playful. Warm wetsuits are provided and boat-based or land-based tours are offered. They have the same duration and interaction times.

You don't need to be a strong swimmer to enjoy swimming with the seals. The wetsuits provided have similar buoyancy to that of a life jacket. There is no strict age limit for children. It's up to the head guide on the day to weigh up weather conditions and the child. Babysitters can be arranged.

Location

The north-east coast of New Zealand’s south island.

Cost

Seal Swim 2.5 hour boat based tours are around $65 for adults and $55 for children. All equipment, guide and hot showers are included. They run several times a day between October and April.

Air New Zealand has flights to Christchurch.

One-way fares from:

  • Melbourne $ 298
  • Sydney $ 304
  • Brisbane $ 310
  • Adelaide $ 510
  • Perth $ 612

Prices are correct at August 14, 2008.

More information


Seal Swim Kaikoura

58 West End
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 319 618
Website: www.sealswimkaikoura.co.nz
Email: info@sealswimkaikoura.co.nz

White Morph Motor Inn
92-94 Esplanade
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 319 5014
Fax: +64 3 319 5015
Website: www.whitemorph.co.nz
Email: info@whitemorph.co.nz

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
Website: www.airnewzealand.com.au
User comments
Please help support Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society protect the whales this fall against the criminal Japan whaling fleet. Paul will be down there making arrests and documenting the events so please give him all the support you can muster.

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