Happy 2009 to everyone!!! We have been really enjoying our time in New Zealand and I hope to get my pictures and commentary posted sometime when I return to Chengdu next Monday.
Today we were scheduled to go whale watching at 11:45 am. It was beautiful outside, but when we arrived at the place of departure they told us that children under 5 were not allowed on the trip. We were pretty disappointed and rescheduled for later in the day. We decided to check out what other activities we could do instead of our whale watch and we found out that we could go swimming with fur seals. I had already seen some of these beautiful creatures on the way down from Picton and was able to get up close to these friendly seals. I was thrilled to hear that we could swim with them and the kids could go to.
We all suited up in wet suits for the trip. The kids actually had to wear 3 suits to keep them warm and buoyant in the water. We took a 10 minutes boat ride to the place we were going to swim with the seals and it was quite bumpy. Angus was quite freaked out by all the splashes and bumps, so this didn't really get him in the mood for the swim. Gemma didn't mind the boat ride, but as soon as we got in the water both the kids were too cold to swim. We put them on the raft and they were able to see the seals on the rocks and swim by them in the water. Jonny and I were able to take turns snorkeling and checking out the sea life in the ocean. The seals were incredibly playful and they would come right up to you as if they were going to swim right into you. One of them got really up close to Jonny and grabbed his flipper with his mouth as if he wanted to play.
After swimming for about 20 minutes the seals seem to get bored with us, so we tried a new area. Unfortunately I think most of the seals were bored with us and we didn't see anymore in the water. It was really great to get so up close and personal to nature and to have the kids see it first hand.
Tomorrow we are hoping to go on our whale watch, but it all depends on the weather. We heard that after we were turned away today that the cancelled all of the tours for the rest of the day due to rough waters. I hope it is smooth sailing tomorrow!