Ben has been talking non-stop about snorkeling at the Poor Knight’s Islands. We decided weeks ago that we’d wait for our friends’ arrival, but that didn’t stop Ben from talking about it over…and over…and over. Most of the conversations went something like this:
“Ah man, I can’t wait to go snorkeling at the Poor Knight’s Islands,” he’d say.
“Yeah, that will be fun,” I’d respond only half listening.
“We don’t have anything to do tomorrow. Want to go then?” he’d ask.
“I thought we were waiting on Brunner and JoJo to get here.” I’d say.
“Yeah, but I really want to go NOW.”
“What will we do with them? You already planned it…”
“We’ll go again!”
“Why? They get here in a couple of weeks. What if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Then we’ll have to go twice and pay twice. It’s not cheap!”
Then I’d add, “You know he’ll be more fun than me anyway. I’m not the best snorkeler.”
“I know. I know. I just really want to go.” Then Ben would spout off some facts about the Islands like “Jacques Cousteau ranked it the #7 top dive site in the world,” while I pretended it was the first time I’d heard it.
Then, he’d drop it. I’d have a few moments of peace before the next exclamation.
“Ah man. Snorkeling at Poor Knight’s Islands is going to be awesome!!”
By the time we left for the Tutukaka Coast, I had heard the song of the Poor Knight’s Island over and over for two months. It was a little tough to get excited about the idea of swimming in FREEZING cold water with who knows what looking at me like I was dinner. I wasn’t upset or dreading it – I just wasn’t over enthusiastic. But, don’t worry…these guys had enough enthusiasm for the both of us.
The summer weather was still hanging in there, and we had a beautiful and pleasant boat ride over to the islands. Since it was technically off-season, we were the only boat there. I’m going to take a guess and say that being the only boat was much more peaceful, and provided better photos, than being one of fifty.
Just as the anticipation was building, we had to put on these beauties.
Oh wait…sorry Ben! Let’s try this again…
Ah crap, sorry Brunner!
No offense to our friends, but I’m pretty sure nobody looks good in a wetsuit. The best you can hope for is acceptable. Any photo of a person who looks good in one of those instant-body-blubber-creators is Photoshopped, while anyone who thinks he/she looks good is delusional.
I’m positive that I’m not the only one who felt this way, because people were jumping in the water before they had their flippers in place.
After the initial breath-taking shock from the water temperature, I peeked below the surface.
It was absolutely magical. The rocks, the seaweed, the fish, the tons and tons of fish, were all so bright and colorful that it was hard to believe I was underwater. I’ve been snorkeling before in Key West. It was eh. The water was rough, and there wasn’t much to see. Here, the water was calm, and there were so many fish and tons of different types of seaweed! Turn around, and the fish were following you.
I found Ben right away – I could see his ear to ear grin across the ocean, and I understood and shared his excitement.
We spent an hour or so at the first stop, then we hopped back on the boat. This time the wetsuits no longer seemed so bad. The captain circled one island and led us into a cave.
He said the cave was a possibility for our second dive spot, but there was one other location he wanted to check first.
Here? Instead of the cave? Really? What is so great about this area? Then we saw it. There was a lone, sun-bathing seal. “Later in the winter,” said the captain, “this area is covered with seals. They head north from Wellington and spend the winter on our warmer islands. Go have a swim with him. There may be others. Just keep an eye out for Psycho. He can get a little crazy.”
We grabbed our flippers and did just that. We swam out to meet this lone seal only to discover he had two buddies with him. Ben was underwater acting like a seal when Psycho swam straight for him. He got within a few feet of Ben, showed his teeth, and sped away. We didn’t get that particular encounter on camera, but the four of us managed to get a few good shots. Ben put together a short highlight video for you. Make sure you watch it all the way through.
Did you see that? That cool swimming with the seals bit at the end? As the seal swam past, I decided to swim along with him. He was much faster, but he slowed when he saw I was trying to keep up. It was one of the absolute best experiences I have ever, well, experienced. I’m giddy just typing about it.
At the end of our little swim, I came out of the water and looked at the camera. I was going to give it a big smile and a thumbs up. When I surfaced, I saw that the recording indicator light was not blinking. The camera was dead. I was pretty upset, but it was hard to be too unhappy in such a beautiful place!
As soon as we got back to the apartment, we popped the memory card into the computer. I was so happy when I saw my seal buddy. Evidently, the battery lasted until I surfaced. Whew.
Even if the footage wouldn’t have been recorded, it wouldn’t have taken away from the adventure. Ben was right in his excitement and anticipation, and he enjoyed himself just as much as he thought he would. Plus, it was a pretty impressive trip to take with our visiting friends!
In case you were wondering, there are several explanations for how the islands got their name. My favorite explanation says to look at the shape of the islands from a distance…
See anything? Perhaps a knight lying on his back? His head is on the right side.
Oh, and did I mention the bathing-suit-less European gentlemen who kept us entertained during the boat ride?
Those are definitely not bathing suits.