Sunbathing at Kaikoura

On the eastern coast of New Zealand's South Island, about halfway between the cities of Blenheim to the North, and Christchurch to the south, sits the little town of Kaikoura. If you're hungry for seafood, Kaikoura is a good place to stop. There are several fresh seafood markets there, and many of the restaurants specialize in "Crayfish," the clawless rock lobster found in the waters offshore.

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri)There's another attraction at Kaikoura. Just outside the town at the headland of a small peninsula that juts into the Pacific ocean there is a place where you can see wild New Zealand Fur Seals (Arctocephalus forsteri). The seals haul out onto the rocks there to bask in the sun and rest.

The day we visited Kaikoura we saw about a half dozen seals in the area called Point Kean. The seal pictured here was sunbathing not far from the parking area, making it relatively easy to take some photos while still maintaining a safe distance between us and her. (We think this is a female, based on size. Adult female fur seals, we are told, usually weigh between 30 and 40 kg).

These seals are a protected species. Hunting them has been banned since 1946. According to information provided by New Zealand's Department of Conservation, the current population of these animals is about 100,000 but it is estimated that there would have been around one million seals before hunting began in the mid-1700s.

Currently there are breeding colonies of fur seals at several locations on New Zealand's coast.

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