The area around Kaikoura is internationally famous for its marine wildlife. Usually, you hear about the many species of whales or dolphins that can be easily viewed in the area. You might hear about the rather large (and growing) seal colony as well, but the real highlight of the area lies down a dark path near Ohau Point…
From the car park at Ohau Point, you can see hundreds of adult fur seals lazily basking in the afternoon sunlight – stinking, snorting, and honking their way into the hearts of the insane people who love them. I’m not joking. Adult fur seals stink. Badly. Yet dozens of people stood there for long periods, gazing down in apparent contentment, snapping picture after picture of these large bulbous creatures.
A few short minutes away from these massive blobs lies a quietly gurgling stream retreating back into the shelter of the mountain forests. It is from this stream that you might hear the occasional splash, squeak, or squeal as you travel along the dirt path beside it. Short glimpses through the trees reveals small black shapes moving in and around the stream, but it isn’t until you reach the final opening that you realize just what a special world you’ve entered. There, not five feet from where you stand, is a beautiful waterfall and pool filled with over 50 frolicking seal pups.
The teenage seals happily darted in and out of the water, staged mock battles for king of the rock, and explored the area around them with innocent curiosity as we watched in total wonder. As I tried desperately to capture their cuteness in the low light conditions, one of the older pups bravely walked up and sniffed Jonathan’s boot. Another one stood on a nearby rock desperately trying to reach a leaf dangling just out of his reach. Yet another pair went thrashing across the trail in pursuit of something their imaginations had dreamed up.
They were everywhere…and everything they did seemed incredibly adorable. It was really hard to leave them…and even though we went back to visit them again, I still didn’t get enough. There’s just something special about watching baby animals play, especially in such a spectacular setting.