With bodies as black, as wet and as gleaming as the rocks they recline on, seals are prolific along the New Zealand coastline. Once your eyes have become used to picking them out, they provide an entertaining break from driving. From Christchurch to Kaikoura, on the South Island’s east coast, there are several lookouts where viewing seal colonies is easy. Hugging the coast, the road provides some spectacular scenery.
Our first stop is just outside Kaikoura to watch playful New Zealand fur seals frolicking in some wild surf along a rocky outcrop beneath us. Boardwalks and lookout points provide easy viewing.
In a more tranquil setting, hidden in the bush, the Oahu Stream is a playground for seal pups. They swim up the stream to the waterfall and – without any adult supervision – wrestle and play to the delight of those people who make the short trek (less than 10 minutes) up the path. The pups are born in November and December and are big enough to make this journey by April. They stay here for two or three days at a time before returning to the rocky foreshore to feed from their mothers. Up to 200 pups play and socialise in this deep pool, or in smaller ones along the stream.
Just watching will make you smile.
A Glass Half Full travelled as a guest of Tourism New Zealand.