Tauranga is well known for its dolphin watching, but a local adventure tours company is offering some unique wildlife experiences – including a kayak tour to watch stingrays feeding.
Tauranga Harbour is home to many stingrays, and Adventure Bay of Plenty’s Grant Bradley says they’re a majestic sight close up. He says the rays come into the harbour’s safe, shallow waters to feed and warm up in the Bay of Plenty sun. At times, there can be more than 50 congregating in one small area. The shelter from predators lying the shallows feeding and resting, and a kayak is the perfect way to view them, says Grant.
“Let the tide carry you directly over them. Then watch as they race off, the tips of their wings breaking the water surface. “
This tour is completely safe and there is no harm done to the rays, he says. Paddlers also commonly see many species of fish jumping out of the water, or shooting under the kayaks, with a flash of glistening scales.
Adventure Bay of Plenty also runs Kayak with the Seals tours at this time of year. Grant Bradley says every year between June and October a number of New Zealand fur seals make their way ashore at Mount Maunganui. Most frequent the rocks around Mauao, but a leopard seal pup has also come ashore at Main Beach. “The seals come in to shield themselves from the cold open ocean weather and laze about on rocks soaking up the warm winter sun,” says Grant.
Paddling past in a kayak is a great way to get up close to these amazing animals in their natural environment, he says. “Watch them roll their heads towards us as we paddle up to them, their huge brown eyes staring curiously at us.” Sometimes slip into the water and swim around the kayaks, darting and diving effortlessly. “It’s an amazing experience and completely safe for the seals and us.”
Adventure Bay of Plenty also runs trips in conjunction with licensed dolphin watching operator Tim Olsson, skipper of Enterprise, including visits to Mayor Island.
The Enterprise is heading out to Mayor Island the weekend beginning Saturday 10th of October. A second trip is planned for the 16th and 17th of October. Grant Bradley says that with Tim Olsson’s dolphin, whale and seal watching license, the trips are a perfect opportunity to visit an amazing location, which also provides a great opportunity to encounter these animals.
Grant Bradley, Adventure Bay of Plenty, Ph. 576 7040, or 0800-238 267, www.adventurebop.co.nz