A Look Back Over February 2016

February was a great month in Kaikōura, we had fantastic summer weather, amazing sightings of semi-resident sperm whales along with various visiting cetacean. It was also very busy due to Chinese New Year with many Chinese visitors coming to visit us.

Summer evenings are the best

Summer evenings are the best

 

We had six regulars feeding close inshore this month: Tutu, Tiaki, Manu, Saddleback, Koru and MatiMati. Tutu, Manu, Saddleback and Tiaki have been visiting Kaikoura during our summer months for many years now with Koru and MatiMati becoming regulars over the last few years. We can tell individual sperm whales apart by different markings, scars and shapes of their tails. Tutu has quite a distinctive tail which droops down on either end – whereas Tiaki’s tail has an indentation on the inner section of his flukes. 

Tail time

Tail time

Throughout summer we can at times also see many other species of whales & dolphins paying a visit to Kaikoura:

1 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

2 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

2 Feb – Common Dolphins x20

3 Feb – Orca x12

3 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

4 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

5 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

6 Feb – Humpback Whale x1

7 Feb – Orca x8

10 Feb – Orca x6

14 Feb – Common Dolphins x100

16 Feb – Orca x6

20 Feb – Orca x6

20 Feb – Common Dolphins x100

27 Feb – Orca x6

28 Feb – Orca x6

The Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins that were visiting with us for part of January and February seemed to stop off here for a time to give birth to same calves. One of our crew managed to get some great pics of these calves who still had their birth rings being just a few days old. So special.

 

New born Pilot Whale

New born Pilot Whale

Mother and calf - Bottlenose Dolphin

Mother and calf - Bottlenose Dolphin

With the water temperature being warmer during February we were able to see at times dark red patches in the water which was krill. Krill is a small crustacean that baleen whales fed on – Humpback, Blue, and Southern Right to name a few. It is always a good sign to us when we see krill that the food chain is healthy.

 

Krill Side View

Krill

As always when times allows we move further inshore and do our best to view NZ fur seals resting up on the rocks along the Kaikoura Coastline. These seals although they look like they are being lazy are actually exhausted and building up strength before heading back out to sea for another 3-4 days feeding before coming back in to rest up again before their next feeding trip out to sea.

There were plenty of marine birds species also sighted this month, such as – wandering albatross, royal albatross, shy mollymawks, cape petrels, giant northern petrels, Hutton’s shearwaters, blue penguins, terns, gulls and shags.

 

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Largest bird in flight - Wandering Albatross

As you can see Kaikoura is a very special place, we are blessed with the abundance of marine life that not only call Kaikoura home but also pass by our coastline at different times of the year.

We have a great app that is free to download and full of great information about the marine life we can see out on our tours, well worth checking out. 

Until next month,

Lisa

We hope you all had a wonderful time over the Easter break with family and friends. Over the weekend we were able to take out some very successful whale watching trips with sightings over sperm whales, a humpback whale, dusky, common and Hector’s dolphins as well as NZ fur seals and marine birds.

Last week we had semi-resident sperm whale Tiaki show back up in Kaikōura Canyon which was such a wonderful surprise. Tiaki has been sighted off our coastline for over 20 years now and is secretly one of my favourites, renowned for his beautiful high tail.

Progress is being made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina with dredging work on the outer harbour beginning after the Easter break, we can expect to see a tug boat, barges and the floating excavation platform soon. Meanwhile we will 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 operational by the middle of this year.

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.

Intercity & Hasslefree 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.

Please consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura, your support is most welcome. 

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.