A Look Back Over July 2016

Did you know that winter time in Kaikoura is not only incredibly beautiful but also the best time of the year to come whale watching?


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Winter time in Kaikoura

When the conditions allowed we had some amazing tours during July with five of our winter semi-resident sperm whales being sighted feeding in the Kaikoura Canyon. Tiaki, Holy Moly, Slice, Tutu and Manu. Each of these whales being distinguished by the different shaped dorsal fins, tail shapes, marks and scars they have.

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It is around this time of the year that we are able to view other species of whales passing through on their annual migration – mainly the humpback whales. This season was no exception with many humpback whale sightings which is fantastic:


2nd July – x4 Humpbacks

3rd July – x6 Humpback

4th July – x1 Humpback

6th July – x1 Humpback

7th July – x3 Humpbacks

8th July – x3 Humpbacks

9th July – 1 Humpback

11th July – x2 Humpbacks

12th July – x2 Humpbacks

13th July – x1 Humpback & x15 Orca

16th July – x4 Humpbacks

17th July – x3 Humpbacks

19th July – x12 Orca

20th July – x2 Humpbacks

21st July – x2 Humpbacks

22nd July – x3 Humpbacks

26th July - x1 Humpback

27th July – x3 Humpbacks

28th July – x2 Humpbacks

30th July – x2 Humpbacks & x1 Blue whale

0930 Tour 13 Nov 14 Roger

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Wow that is an incredible 46 individual sightings of a humpback whale passing through Kaikoura during July. Fantastic news and so great to see the numbers passing through on the increase (as a side note we have also have 5 more sightings over the first couple of days in August).


The humpback whale is a baleen whale meaning that it doesn’t have teeth but instead has baleen plates running down from the upper jaw that act like a sieve, filtering out the photo & zoo plankton (krill) and nutrients from the water. Baleen being a substance similar to our finger nails and hair.  So, for being one of the largest creatures in the ocean they feast upon one of the smallest creatures in the ocean. Such amazing creatures.


When time allowed on our tours we were also able to view dusky dolphins, hectors dolphins, NZ fur seals and many different species of marine birds. This is the natural environment for such a wide range of marine life which makes whale watching so fun, never knowing from one day to the next what we are going to see when we head out on one of our tours.

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Dusky Dolphins


As mentioned we were able to view many different species of marine birds such as: wandering albatross, royal albatross, shy mollymawk, northern giant petrel, cape petrel, bullers shearwater and also a white morph which is a very rare species of bird to see off our coastline.

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As I write this there is a new layer of snow peeking out from under low cloud over the Kaikoura Ranges, winter has well and truly made itself known today.

Until next month, keep warm



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.