A Look Back Over December 2015

Welcome to the first update of 2016… The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura hopes you all had a wonderful Christmas / New Years with your family and friends. We have been really blessed with lots of sunshine and fantastic tours over the holiday season.

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Pohutakawa - NZ Christmas Tree

December was a very busy month for us with it being the beginning of our summer period. We had many successful trips along with fantastic sightings and happy passengers.


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Incredible photo captured by one of our guests in December - Jimmy De Taeye

We had 5 semi-resident sperm whales sighted at various times throughout December along with other individuals that came and went as they pleased. Two of the semi-residents were Tutu (short for Tutumairekurai which translates to Special Ocean Dweller which is the Maori name given to the Hectors Dolphin. Tutu's dorsal fin is shaped a bit like that of a Hectors Dolphin - hence the name Tutu) and MatiMati (also known as Fingers). The other 3 semi-residents were Tiaki, Aoraki and Jonah. All of these sperm whales have been visiting Kaikoura off and on for many years now and have become good friends of ours.

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Semi-resident sperm whale Jonah

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There he blows - semi-resident sperm whale Tutu

From time to time we also get to see other species of marine life pass through the area due to Kaikoura being on the main migratory path for many species of whales and dolphins, passengers who travelled on the following dates were in for a treat with being able to sight not only sperm whales but also:

03 Dec – Orca x3

10 Dec – Orca x12

18 Dec – Orca x4

22 Dec – Orca x4

23 Dec – Southern Right Whale Dolphins x6

26 Dec – Orca x4

31 Dec – Orca x5

31 Dec – Beaked Whales x2



Male Orca sighted off the Kaikoura coast during December

When time and opportunity allows we can also regularly see dusky dolphins, hectors dolphins, NZ fur seals, and there was even a few blue penguins and a sunfish sighted offshore as the water has started to warm up.

There have been regular sightings of the Hectors Dolphins out the front of our office along with pods of between 100 – 500 dusky dolphins on the southern side of the peninsula.

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Dusky dolphins

We are blessed with an abundance of marine birds off the coastline also, some examples of bird species we sighted include: Hutton Shearwater’s, Wandering Albatross, Buller’s Shearwater, Fairy Prions, Giant Northern Petrel, Shy Mollymawk to name a few.

Please remember to book well in advance at this time of the year as our tours are in high demand.

Here is to an amazing 2016 with plenty of great whale (and other marine life) sightings. We look forward to having you come visit with us.

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Kaikoura is beautiful

There have been some beautiful sunrises in Kaikōura over the past week, with more sunshine forecasted for the upcoming days too!

Out on our tours we saw semi-residential Sperm Whales Aoraki, Tutu and Tiaki feeding in the Hikurangi Trench as well as Sperm Whales new to our region. When time allowed, we were able to view NZ Fur Seals on Barney’s Rock, a rock thought to be used as a lookout point by early whalers.

This week we had only one juvenile Humpback Whale passing through our waters. It’s coming to the end of their annual migration which only means one thing, the Summer Orca season is approaching us!

We currently have an end of winter sale on at our Retail Store at the moment, a whopping 25% off all hoodies, jackets and merino items! We need to make room for new summer stock, so head over to our online store to get your hands on some winter goodies.


There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. 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.

During the cooler winter months it is a good reminder to take extra care on the roads and to check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling.

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 the Kaikōura Marina will be fully 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.