NZHerald.co.nz – Kayaker Mark Jones had unexpected company when a pod of whales surrounded him as he paddled to Great Barrier Island.
Mr Jones was nearing the end of his journey when, 6km from Great Barrier, he heard the group of five whales feeding in the shallow waters.
“I heard these spouting sounds and turned around. They were right behind me.”
Mr Jones was kayaking from Leigh to raise money for the Kayak for Child Cancer fundraiser, when the Bryde’s whales made their appearance.
Whales appear in front of Mark Jones and his kaykak. Image / Mark Jones, NZ Herald
He said the experience of seeing a whale open its mouth, skim the water for food and then slap its lower jaw against the surface was unforgettable.
Mr Jones said the two largest whales in the pod were around 14m – twice the length of his kayak.
Sonia Williams, from the Department of Conservation on Great Barrier Island, said about 200 Bryde’s whales lived in the Hauraki Gulf.
“There has been a lot of whale activity lately. We have had sightings of a humpback and a blue whale with her calf.”
A group of kayakers will paddle from Leigh to Great Barrier Island on Saturday to raise money for child cancer. The fundraiser aims to raise $75,000 – $1 for every treatment or procedure children who have cancer go through annually.