A Look Back Over August 2017

See you next year Winter! We’re taking a look back on the last month of Winter here in New Zealand for 2017, and catching you up on some of our recent sightings during August.

Winter treated us well here in Kaikōura. It’s been another month in paradise with beautiful sunsets and sunrises complimenting the snowy Kaikōura Ranges and making for some epic days on the water full of sunshine and refreshingly crisp air.

Kaikoura , New Zealand in winter

Semi-resident Sperm Whales that we were able to view throughout August included Tutu,Slice, Holy Moly, Tiaki,Matimati and Aoraki. We’ve been seeing these guys for 20+ years on our tours off the Kaikōura Coast, and it’s great to still be able to see them hanging out in the Hikurangi Trench after all this time. Many transient Sperm Whales, who we haven’t seen before, also were sighted on this month’s tours and were welcome visitors to our region.

Sperm Whale in Kaikoura

Sperm Whales diving off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand

We had quite a few other visitors during August, making for some extra special tours:

2nd August          2X Humpback Whale

2nd August          1X Blue Whale

3rd August           1X Humpback Whale

9th August           2X Humpback Whale

12th August         2X Humpback Whale

15th August         1X Humpback Whale

24th August         4X Orca

Orca in Kaikoura with Whale Watch Kaikoura

In total, we saw eight Humpback Whales this month, much lower than last month which is to be expected due to their Great Annual Migration from Antarctica to the Pacific Islands drawing to an end. We’re currently in the transition months from viewing these whales to having Orca, the largest of the dolphin family, visit our shores. We can’t decide what’s better – the Winter season of viewing the most acrobatic whale species in the world or the Summer season that brings with it the wolves of the sea? You decide! Either way, any time of the year is a good time for whale watching, especially with our 95% success rate and Sperm Whales being in our region all year round.

One of our most exciting encounters this month was hitting the whale trifecta! On a single tour we saw three species of whale – Sperm, Humpback and Blue! This is a very rare occurrence for us and one not often achieved, making for a memorable trip for both our passengers as well as our sea crew.

Humpback Whale breaching in Kaikoura, New Zealand

As with all our tours, when time allows we take time to view other species of marine life that live off the Kaikōura coast such as Dusky Dolphins, Hectors Dolphins, NZ Fur Seals and the many marine bird species.

Dusky Dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Hectors Dolphins spotted on a Whale Watch Kaikoura tour

Bird species sighted during August included; Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross,Bullers Mollymawk,Shy Mollymawk,Grey Headed Mollymawk,Black Browed Mollymawk,Cape Petrel, Giant Northern Petrel,Westland Petrel,Grey Faced Petrel, Hutton Shearwater,Sooty Shearwater,Bullers Shearwater,Fairy Prion, White Fronted Tern,Black Back Gull Black Shag, Spotted Shag and the Australasian Gannet.

Seabirds sighted during  a whale watch tour in Kaikoura NZ

Our whale watching vessel, Tohora, has been the only vessel operating this month while our other three are waiting patiently up in Wellington for our marina to be repaired and upgraded. Each morning we unload Tohora from our modified trailer over at South Bay and load her back up in the evening in time with high tide.

Unloading Tohora whale watch vessel from our trailer

As the snow-capped mountains melt and the trees turn to bloom, we’re extremely excited to see what our Spring tours have in store for us! Longer and brighter days are on their way, and gearing up to be a great few months ahead for us.

We’ll check in with you at the end of September for another marine mammal sightings update.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura

Kaikōura truly is a marine mecca. This week we’ve had some successful days out on the water, sighting Beaked Whales, Humpback Whales as well as the Mighty Sperm Whale! It’s so great to see the Humpback Whales still stopping in to say hello as they migrate past Kaikōura. This week we found them right off the Kaikōura Peninsula, making for a very short trip out to see them! When time allowed we also saw Dusky Dolphins, Hectors Dolphins and NZ Fur Seals on our tours, taking passengers to Barney’s Rock where a number of them reside.

Term 3 School Holidays are fast approaching, we advise you get a head start planning some fun activates for your kids now and utilise our School Holiday Special! From the 30th of September to the 15th of October 2017 (inclusive), kids travel with us for free with every full fare paying adult! Consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura and showing your tamariki the spectacular marine life on offer. Reserve your seats here before spaces fill up.


There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

From Tuesday, 22nd August, drivers will need to watch for 28 metre truck loads moving bridge beams to Kaikōura, via the Lewis Pass and the inland road via Waiau/Mt Lyford. The beams are for a new bridge build as well as smaller bridge sites north of Kaikōura. Some minor delays can be expected due to the length of the load and the slow and winding nature of parts of the route. These truckloads are scheduled to follow this inland route until September.

Progress is continuing to be made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina, with the modified trailer and public jetty now being used for launching our vessel Tohora. This is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. All our berths have now been removed. This is an end of an era but we are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! The use of the modified trailer and public jetty will continue until further notice. It is anticipated that our facilities will be restored in October 2017. Below is a graphic (indicative only) of what is being restored at the marina.

Currently our available tour times are based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised, please bear with us as we continue to work toward being fully operational again. For an update on the tour times available, please contact our Customer Service team directly either by email on res@whalewatch.co.nz, phone +64 3 319 6767 or free phone 0800 655 121 (within NZ) and they will be able to help you with your inquiry.  Please note we are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours available per day. Please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.


Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 


Hasslefree Tours & Canterbury Leisure Tours have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, as well as Kiwi Experience now having the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers.

Progress on the work being done on roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on this dedicated KAIKOURA EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Friday. Work is also starting to take place on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.