A Look Back Over July 2017

Kaikōura is as beautiful as ever in July, marking the middle of winter which brought with it snow and hail storms as well as days of clear blue skies with the sun in its full glory. July is genuinely a quitter time of year for us at Whale Watch Kaikoura so definitely a perfect time to visit if you are looking to get away from the crowded city life to enjoy a slice of paradise.

The semi-resident Sperm Whales that we were able to view throughout July included Saddleback, Tutu, Tiaki, Matimati, Aoraki and Aotearoa. We’ve been seeing these guys for 20+ years on our tours off the Kaikōura Coast, which well and truly earns them ‘local’ status.

Whale tail, Kaikoura NZ

We had quite a few Humpback Whale visitors during July, making for some extra special tours:

1st July        3X Humpback Whale

2nd July       2X Humpback Whale

3rd July        2X Humpback Whale

5th July        2X Humpback Whale

7th July        1X Humpback Whale

10th July      1X Humpback Whale

11th July      1X Humpback Whale

17th July      1X Humpback Whale

19th July      1X Humpback Whale

20th July      2X Humpback Whale

That is an incredible total 16 individual sightings of a Humpback Whale passing through Kaikōura during July! Humpback Whales pass through Kaikōura during the months of May - August as they travel from the cold Antarctic waters to sub-tropical coastal waters of Australia and Tonga. In winter, Antarctic food becomes scarce and the waters too cold for these warm-blooded mammals, especially new-born calves.

Humpback Whale breaching

Humpback Whale breaching

This great whale migration occurs every year, as they move from their feeding grounds to mate and give birth during winter and spring. Humpback Whales are capable of travelling up to 5MPH! However, during such a long journey, they average only 1MPH, allowing them to rest and socialise along the way.

Humpback Whale flipper

Humpback Whale waving hello

One of our most exciting encounters this month was seeing two Humpback Whales playing with a pod of over 100 Dusky Dolphins. Guests walked away with some amazing pictures and memories, stoked to see the Humpbacks and Duskies living up to their spirited and inquisitive reputations. Seeing whales in their natural habitat for some people is a once in a lifetime experience, and coupled with dolphins is just the icing on the cake!

Dusky dolphins swimming along with a Humpback whale in Kaikoura NZ

As with all out tours, when time allows we take time to view other species of marine life that live off the Kaikōura coast such Dusky Dolphins, Hectors Dolphins, NZ Fur Seals and the many marine bird species.

Dusky Dolphins

Bird species sighted during July included: Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Bullers Mollymawk, Shy Mollymawk, Grey headed Mollymawk, Black Browed Mollymawk, Cape Petrel, Giant Northern Petrel, Storm Petrel, Westland Petrel, Hutton Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Bullers Shearwater, Fairy Prion, White Fronted Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Back Gull and the Spotted Shag.

The Kaikōura Trench makes Kaikōura a marine life mecca, and each day on the water diverse and exciting! We’ll check in with you and the end of next month for another monthly round up of sightings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura

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