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.

IMG 0723

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 waving hello

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!

IMG 4357

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

Even though we’re still in the last month of Winter, it’s starting to feel more and more like Spring! It was a cracker weekend here in Kaikōura with amazing sea conditions and picture perfect days to go along with it.

This week we saw semi-residential whales Tiaki, Matimati, Tutu and Aoraki as well as some visiting Sperm Whales to our region. It’s so encouraging to see these whales returning to our region time and time again as they are always our favourites to see out on the water.

Four Humpback Whales were seen on our tours this week. September marks the end of their annual migration, so it’s not too long until we stop seeing the most acrobatic whales on the planet on our tours completely until next year’s journey takes them back through Kaikōura waters again.

Wednesday’s tour got to see a pod of 300 Dusky Dolphins playing with a Giant Warty Squid, also known as the Longarm Octopus Squid. These squid grow up to two meters in length and are a staple part of the Sperm Whale’s diet. A truly spectacular sight to see!

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.

As we enter into 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. 


IntercityHasslefree 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.