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.

2016 01 11 08.49.53

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.


12310095 10153698573191390 3914401701422590215 o

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.

IMG 7832 2

Semi-resident sperm whale Jonah

tutu 6

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.

11204977 909376255765429 4299838377013771542 n

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.

2015 12 14 18.49.21

Kaikoura is beautiful

We had some stunning weather over the weekend along with some great sightings on our tours. Not only were we able to see sperm whales but also the rare opportunity of seeing a pod of beaked whales pass by the Kaikōura coastline. Not a common sight at all and one that is very treasured by all when we do.

Over the weekend we also had a visit from a couple of the crew from Emirates Team New Zealand with the America’s Cup. It was great to have the opportunity to see the cup up close. Check out this video to see how the afternoon went.

The Huttons Shearwater (Tītī) are special to us in Kaikōura. Their habitat sustained considerable loss during the Nov 2016 earthquake. Please take the time to vote for them as Bird of the Year and this status will help secure the much needed funding for more research so we can plan for their future.


The highway will be open during daylight hours on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays (perfect for a long weekend getaway) from 7AM to 7PM.

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 December 2017.

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.

Please be aware that this week is a full closure week - Monday 16 to Friday 20 October. The road will reopen to the public midday on Friday 20 October for Labour weekend travellers. Another full week closure is scheduled for Monday 6 to Friday 10 November. 

Something worth celebrating...

Restoration work on the Kaikoura marina begun 10 months ago, and over the weekend we celebrated being able to now use berth 3 & 4. We have been using our trailer unit & the public jetty for some time now so to be able to pull up into our berths is quite an exciting feat. We still have a wee way to go but this is a HUGE step closer to being fully operational. We are very thankful for the amazing work the harbour repair crew are doing in what are at times trying conditions. We are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! We cannot thank the tireless effort that the workers have put in to get us to this stage especially in what has been trying conditions at times.

More great news…

We thank you all for your patience over the last 11 months with the changing tour times with having work in line with the tides but with being able to now use berth 3 & 4 it means that we are now back running on our original fixed tour timetable. 0715, 1000, 1245 & 1530 (Nov-Mar)


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 ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express 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.

11 months on and we are starting to see some real progress – the teams out on the road, rail and the marina are all doing such an amazing job for which we are so thankful. And, we cannot thank you all enough for your continual support.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura