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

Over the last week we had fantastic tours with great sightings of semi-resident sperm whales Tutu, Tiaki and Manu who were feeding reasonably close inshore. When time allowed we also viewed dusky & Hector’s dolphins, NZ fur seals and marine birds.

Winter has been making itself well and truly known over the last few days which reminds us to be taking care on the roads especially earlier in the day when ice can be an issue. For those of you who enjoy time on the slopes, local family owned ski field Mt Lyford is due to open on the 29th June (just in time for the school holidays!).


• The highway will be open during daylight hours on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays (perfect for a long weekend getaway)

• The highway will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for repairs to take place. 

• The closure schedule is expected to remain in place until the end of September.

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.

As we enter into 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 being made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina and we continue to switch between using a berth and our modified trailer unit for launching our vessel Tohorā, when and where possible we are also making use of the public jetty that we have modified, this is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully restored in October 2017.

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 or 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 Business Update:

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. 

Transport Update:

All subject to weather conditions, slips, repair work and seismic activity. Updates available from the NZTA WEBSITE.

IntercityHasslefree 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.

Not long until the July School Holidays - why not bring your family to Kaikōura & join us for a whale watch tour? There is also plenty to see & do before or after you join with us. Please consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura, your support is most welcome. July School Holiday Special

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.