Bestworst holiday

24th August 2007 at 01:00

My friend and I had heard about the famous dolphin encounter which departed from Kaikoura on New Zealand's South Island every day and didn't quite believe the rumours that under the surface of the water were thousands of dolphins.

We managed to get a much in-demand place on the next boat out into the ocean and, once aboard, slipped on our wetsuits. Suddenly excitement filtered around the other travellers a pod had been found and the boat sped off. A few minutes later, we were told that when the whistle blew, we all had to jump off the back of the boat. The whistle blew and off we jumped into the ice-cold water.

Carefully, I let my body float upwards and took my first look beneath the water. I saw nothing at first, but after a few seconds, there were dolphins whooshing all around, whizzing past but having a quick glance back at me as if to say: "You're a funny looking dolphin".

There were fins flapping against my legs what an amazing feeling. We had to sing to them so they would come near us. But every time I started to make a noise through my snorkel, so many came my way it was a little scary. I tried to take photographs with my underwater camera but every time I spotted a dolphin, I jumped before clicking. I have many great photographs of dolphin tails.


My friend and I also travelled to Fiji and went island hopping and sailing through a set of islands close by called the Mamanucas. The scenery was incredible, the sea amazingly blue. The famous beach from The Blue Lagoon was on one of the other islands nearby. A stay on one particular island was pretty unpleasant to say the least. The mattress was about a centimetre thick, the mosquito nets were full of holes and there were flies all over the food. We had to shower with ice-cold water, which we expected, but there were no locks and the shacks where we had to shower were so small, I accidentally kept knocking the door open. We couldn't just have a wash in the sea either because we had caught scabies in Los Angeles and were covered from head to toe in head lice lotion which we could not get wet for 24 hours.

To top it all off, the water taxi which took us back to the boat had a rather carefree crew who, when throwing my backpack up to the big boat crew, didn't quite throw far enough, so it fell into the sea. Luckily, and I don't quite understand how, my 18kg backpack did not sink, or at least not before the crew yanked it out. But yes, everything was soggy inside

Claire Kane teaches in Hertfordshire

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