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?


2013 09 25 2

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.

2016 08 02 07.52.40

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



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