Russians enjoy Picton Tour
A robust group of Russians clambered down the stairs leading to the Picton Foreshore tourism operators on Saturday.
The loud, excited chatter was incomprehensible to onlookers, but their tone and body language said it all. They were pumping to hit the water.
DolphinWatch Ecotour tour guides split them into three groups; the players on two catamarans, and the team managers on a smaller boat. They yelled jibes across the water and joked about who would be the first to jump in.
"The players are just loving the scenery," said scrum and technical coach Darren Morris.
"Most of these players come from places thousands of miles from the sea, so today, all this has been incredible for them."
At Lochmara Lodge, the players were enthralled with the kunekune pigs and the alpacas, stopping to take photos and videos of them.
One group of players got a more "up close and personal" experience with the alpacas when one of the animals started chasing them.
They enjoyed looking around Crumpy's Hut, a bushman's hut, and were amused by the idea of using a leaf, Bushman's Friend, as toilet paper, and another native leaf to soothe the stomach.
"Luckily we have got a doctor. Surely that is better than a couple of leaves," backs coach Henry Paul joked.
Guests at Lochmara Lodge appeared surprised to find the burley men lining up out the door for their traditional Kiwi barbecue. Cameras came out for sneak pictures and group shots.
St Margaret's College teacher Shirley Smith, of Christchurch, said it was a thrill to see the players.
"They were so friendly. They were just gorgeous," she said.
After lunch the players showed off their kicking skills, by trying to kick a rugby ball on to a dinghy set up by the lodge.
Within 10 minutes of leaving Lochmara, the boats came across dolphins and several seals at the top of The Snout.
Tour guide Paul Luxton said it was rare to see the species side by side.
The players looked like they were loving the experience, particularly when the dolphins swam in the catamarans' wake.
"Do you want one of our dolphins," one yelled out to us. "We've got four!"
Player Michael Sidorov said the day out was just what they needed leading up to their first match against the United States on Thursday.