We were soon on our way in search of the seals at Kaikora. The seals were probably one of the ‘real’ attractions that interest me personally. Its a rare opportunity and I think it is worth every ounce of effort to see them in real life. It was an anxious drive from Kaikora town to Ohau stream walkway and waterfall. We were constantly on the lookout for seals on the sides of the road because a friend told me they would be everywhere.
Our first stop was at the Ohau lookout. With the car safely parked at the side of the road (the shoulder of the road wasn’t that wide on most stretch of the road), we got down to take a closer look at the signboards posted on the side. The information provided on the boards were really throrough, a testament of the Kiwi’s relentless work to protect their environment.
The New Zealand fur seals or kekeno ( I assume this is Maori name) is not a threaten species, in fact, according to DOC , their population trend is increasing. Not a surprising thing since the kekeno are spread mostly between New Zealand and Australia. Two countries famous for their ‘do not spare the cane’ approach when it comes to protecting their natural heritage. Looking at them kekeno as they ‘sun bath’ on the beach and rocks, I concluded that they are having a good life indeed. If they were anyway near Asia…they would probably be extint long time ago.
We have seen the seals in their play pool and basking on the beach. It is now time to hopefully catch a glimpse of them at the famous Ohau waterfall. Its a close drive from the look out point. There were already several cars at the entrance point of the trek. The signboard indicates there can be up to hundreds of seal pups at the waterfall and warned visitors to keep the distance. Hundreds? How big is the waterfall anyway??! At this point, I was hoping that it would be a massive waterfall, bigger than the waterfalls in Malaysia.
Yang Yang as usual prefers mom to piggy back him. I gotta find a way to get rid of the baby carrier and force Yang Yang to walk on his own. Otherwise Meun is gonna hurt her back very soon. To make things worse, this is no flat terrain walking either. There were stairs built for walkers and we walked under the railway line. Thankfully the place is frequented often, hence the trail is relatively clear. But I can still spot some smaller less used turn-offs on the sides of the main trail. I wonder if they lead any where or perhaps they are just various ‘challenge by choice’ toilet detours.
It probably took us about 15 minutes to walk to the waterfall. Not tremendously far to walk but what puzzles me is how the heck did the seal pups get to the waterfall? The stream is really a ‘stream’…no more than 2 meters wide at most and covered with rocks of all sizes on all sides all the way. The baby seals must like the waterfall so much to make that treacherous walk on their flippers just to get there. I find this a really strange behavior for an animal that is obviously more suited to swim than waddle up a rocky stream.
The New Zealand fur seals at Ahau look out and Ohau waterfall & stream I reckon are two ‘not to be missed’ attractions in South Island New Zealand. It is not too far of a drive from Christchurch and the view along the way is simply breathtaking. There are no fees to be paid, no tour operators to be a slave to and definitely not something you would find elsewhere. Definitely worth a visit if you ever do come to New Zealand