Visited by Dolphins

In this year’s Christmas Pageant, it looks like dolphins will play the role of the Three Wise Men.

After sleeping through a lovely rain-storm on the hillside at the hostel, I woke early and prepared for an 8 am kayak outing. There were six others — we went out with a woman named Mafi, who did a great job reviewing some paddling basics with the group. We bounced down an incredible hillside in two 4-wheel drive trucks, seeming to go down at angles of 45% grade in places. I suggested she could charge for the ride all by itself. In a cliff meadow above the sea, we retrieved our paddles and lifejackets from an old VW van that won’t be driving away from the spot anytime soon. Then we hiked down the cliff to a pocket beach of basalt cobblestones, and a row of waiting kayaks – lime, purple, red and banana yellow. Festive. The water itself of course is indescribably seagreen blue, as if painted white underneath, or illuminated with a lightsource that lies below the water. We paddled out acrosss the Harbor of Akaroa, and were soon met by two Hector dolphins — rare, and very small — a mother and her infant dolphin. Very lovely. They swam through and around our boats. Later we met a group of 4, who were joined by 2 more.

(missing from original attempt to post)

The shores of the Akaroa harbor are old volcanic flows – columnar basalt breaking into blocks, and lovely caves carved out by the salt water, where there must have been ash-deposits.

We paddled across to view the sea caves, which were only partly visible (they are twice as large in spots, during low tide) — the sea glugged and gurgled in the throat of each cave, and sea birds nesting above us began a chorus of warning calls and harumphs of mild outrage at our presence below.

One the paddle back across the harbor, shore to shore, a great wind began to blow as a storm was developing, and the squall line blew up some white-caps. I enjoyed the waves, as they are great fun to paddle through — but I don’t think everyone liked it. Suddenly dolphins arrived to escort us back – it was a sort of blessing.

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