Just Keep (Dolphin) Swimming

Swimming with wild dolphins in the Bay of Islands

Leaving my friends that have real jobs back in London, I was left to my own devices in Auckland for a few days before flying to Indonesia. With so much left unseen, I did my best to cram as many activities in the last 72 hours as possible. First thing's first: booked a bus that goes due north of Auckland. In hindsight, I realized there were more economical ways of accomplishing this rather than using the Kiwi Experience bus, but it was too late. Public/government buses are significantly cheaper and do the job just fine, but it all depends on what you need. With Kiwi Experience, you get a younger or younger-minded clientele and an immediate group of people with whom to get beers.

If you're equally adept at making friends when reaching your sleeping accommodations, or alternatively, are a hermit, then the govvy buses are a better option for you. In hindsight, had I known about the public buses, I would have taken the option for such a short trip, but I am happy  to have met the people I did. Had I not, my trip would have ended in just dolphin watching, not even swimming, at Bay of Islands, and how boring would that be?

Boarding the boat immediately after the six hour bus journey, the captain and his first mate announce that though autumn has come upon New Zealand, we were blessed with still warm temperatures. Excellent,  I thought. Not a confident swimmer, and even less so in shivering waters, this was music to my ears. Regulations for the boat are such that the captain is given only a limited number of opportunities (two) with a maximum amount of time that people are allowed in the waters, so I knew I had to make the most of the first dive into the water.

At the first dolphin siting, we came to a halt, with the first mate shouting, "Go! Go! Go! Swim!" I hesitantly jump in the water, and F&*$!*%kkkk it's cold. Was she absolutely off her rocker? Tail between my legs and crawling back on the boat, I see her from the corner of my eye, giving me a pathetic look that said 'poor sap' but my delicate bones simply couldn't handle NZ's warm water. After climbing onto the boat, I look back and see that the rest of the swimmers were miles away. Yep, I was a pansy. Oh well, at least I knew it. After sitting for a bit and sifting through my scraps of dignity, a slightly older woman comes up to me and says, "I saw that." Great. "You should just go in next time, because if you don't, I'll push you in myself." Double great.

Second attempt comes up. "Go! Go! Go! Swim! They're swimming away!" Well, here goes nothing. I did it! And I didn't have to be pushed in! Though not many swimmers got close enough to actually say "I swam with wild dolphins," for me, it was a personal victory that I swam with the rest of the boat. Hurray! Fear conquered. Now just to find some wild dolphins willing to hang out with me.

Next up: how 90-Mile Beach is not actually 90 miles and the second northernmost point of New Zealand. Oh, I also attempt sandboarding again.

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