Day 247 on the Road
Marine Wildlife Encounters in the Marlborough Sounds
Today we are heading to the Lochmara resort for swimming with stingrays, an underwater observatory and seeing dolphins! If you like this video and want more NZ bucket list inspiration then simply check out our awesome YouTube Channel. We’re doing 365 Activities in 365 Days!
Today we’re going to be swimming with stingrays and having an underwater marine wildlife experience at Lochmara.
This morning it’s a short drive between Blenheim and Picton which is going to be the last town we’re exploring on our journey in the South Island of New Zealand. And as soon as we arrive in Picton, we are hopping on a boat.
This boat is taking us to a place called Lochmara which is in the Marlborough Sounds. It’s a wildlife recovery Centre, an arts Centre and a Lodge.
Needless to say we’re gonna have a really busy day ahead of us. And just the journey to go to Lochmara itself is absolutely amazing. the Marlborough Sounds never fails to impress.
As soon as we hit the short of the beautiful resort we have an appointment with t he beautiful rays of the area because they are mostly getting out in really early morning hours we have to hustle to make our way in the water and get to swim with them.
We grab ourselves some snorkelling gear and very short wetsuits because it’s such a beautiful day the water is in a perfectly comfortable temperature so the wetsuit is really not very much needed.
As soon as we hit the water we see heaps of fish and they are really curious about us but we’re here for the stingray.
We can’t believe how quickly we’re having such an awesome wildlife encounter here at Lochmara. We are getting super close to these huge stingray which we’re even allowed to touch they have super slippery skin.
But that’s not the only wildlife we’re in the water with, we are surrounded by yellow-eyed mullet which are these huge schools of fish that are swimming around and around in circles there’s also loads of jellyfish which thankfully they are not the kind that sting you, and there’s starfish there’s sea urchins and there’s pied shags which are really interesting to watch diving underwater to catch their food.
One of the things that surprises me the most when swimming with the stingray is how slowly they are making their way at the bottom of the water, it’s absolutely amazing to see them moving in literal slow motion but as soon as we get a little bit too close or they’re getting a little bit scared, they are quick to make their way very far away from you very quickly in a massive cloud of dust.
When getting the snorkel we also heard a few facts about the stingray and it’s quite impressive to know that they have one of the best senses of smell in the entire marine wildlife kingdom they they can smell cadavers of prey very very far away. And yes stingrays are not only hunters, they are also scavengers, they are often known as the vultures of the sea.
After that awesome snorkelling session we have worked up quite an appetite so we’re gonna make our towards the Lochmara cafe now, but there’s so many different walkways in this bay and so much to see it does take a while to get there. there’s a lot of art work and sculptures, a lot of hammocks to lazy around in and a lot of interesting birds as well.
I mean look at this little guy, he makes us feel like we’re on some sort of tropical paradise island which if you look around us that’s kind of what this place feels like, but yes we eventually do make it to the Lochmara cafe to treat ourselves to a huge and delicious lunch.
The food is absolutely delicious but best of all is the view. Behind us is the whole of the Marlborough Sounds and the sun is out. it make it for just a perfect day and to make it even better the dolphins are here so we are rushing toward the boat, because well, there is dolphins.
We learn that in the past few days there has been a massive pod of bottlenose dolphins that have been roaming around the sound and they are right in front of the Lochmara Lodge. All the staff is out in water in all sorts of different dingies to go play with those amazing creatures. The bottlenose dolphins are one of the biggest species of dolphins in the world so they’re not really afraid of such a small dingy like ours so they are really inquisitive so they are super curious about us and come to investigate and that’s all for the better because we love dolphins.
There’s so much to do at Lochmara that we’re already moving onto our next activity we are meeting Khia who is the local marine biologist and she is showing us her conservation area.
Khia is telling us about the amazing creatures we have seen while snorkelling this morning and we’re gonna see more of these creatures as we head toward the underwater observatory.
We are leaving behind the dog, the stingray, the jellyfish and all the shags that are hanging around the coast and going into the underwater observatory to see these guys in the underwater world of the Marlborough Sounds.
The underwater observatory is surrounded by an artificial reef which attract loads of marine wildlife it’s the perfect way to see these underwater creatures without getting wet not that we really minded that this morning anyway.
The story behind this underwater observatory is that the Lochmara team is trying to rebuild a bit of a native reef right here in the shore of the Lochmara resort. It’s gonna help them bring more wildlife and also being able to study them up-close and this underwater observatory is a great way to educate people on the value of protecting marine wildlife.
From there we get to see a heap of marine creatures from the jellyfish the sea urchin, the awesome starfish which are actually moving right before our eyes it’s really cool. We also see the pied shags those birds are basically comerants if you are from Europe or North american and they are really good divers. Fromthe underwater observatory we can see them underwater, it’s really cool to see them fish. It’s absolutely unique.
Once one of them has caught a fish, we are finally done with the underwater observatory and we are moving outside to the Touch Tank.
If we haven’t had close enough encounters with the wildlife today we are now getting the opportunity to touch them and see what they feel like.
In the touch tank we get to see loads of different species of starfish, sea urchins, sea anemone and they all have a different texture to them and they feel a lot different to what you expect them to feel like.
And finally after all those wildlife encounters we are moving onto our final activity of the day which is some simple fun at the flying fox otherwise known as a zipline.
They have quite the hilarious zipline setup here at Lochmara which you just can’t help but laugh at as you’re flying through the trees like a wood pigeon it’s so much fun and it’s something you could definitely do again and again and again.
Once Laura and I have a go at the crazy flying fox we are now well deserving of a bit of the rest. There is just so much to do here in Lochmara. In fact, they have 24 different activities so we are heading to the hammocks because our boat only 30 minutes away and we’re gonna be relaxing a little bit before heading back to the town of Picton.
With such a crazy awesome day at Lochmara seeing everything that the Marlborough Sounds has to offer but now I really need a nap.
We see some jellyfish, ton of jellyfish do not fear their sting cannot sting us they’re too short they don’t go through our skin so we’re not getting electrocuted or died just yet.
We’re not getting electrocuted or died just yet. Do you mean or killed?
Ok buzz off. Goddammit what is she doing to me already just riving and complaining.