A Look Back Over March 2016

I just love this time of the year where the leaves start to change colour, it really does make for such beautiful scenery. The days are getting shorter but the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that go with this make up for it.

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Easter Sunday sunset

We had two semi-resident sperm whales being sighted throughout March – Tiaki and Tutu. Both of these whales have been sighted off the Kaikoura coastline for many years now and have become good friends of ours.

We are able to identify these individuals apart by the different shaped dorsal fins, tail and heads along with markings and scars these whales have.



Tiaki & Tutu - Semi-resident sperm whales in Kaikoura

During March we were able to see a couple of other species of whale pass by the coastline which is always an extra special bonus for our guests and sea crew alike.

13th March – Blue Whale x3

14th March – Humpback Whale

15th March – Humpback Whale

This humpback whale was rather special in the fact that it didn’t have a tail. Such an unusual sight to see and not something we have experienced before. It is amazing to think that this whale is still able to travel great distances despite no tail flukes to help propel itself along.


There have also been three species of dolphins sighted pretty regularly this month. Dusky dolphins (which we see all year round) were seen often in pods of between 100-400 individuals. There was also regular sightings of Hector’s Dolphins and Common Dolphins too. 

The dusky dolphins have been feeding close inshore at times being able to sit on the beach in South Bay and watch them doing the leaps, jumps and flips they are renowned for. Even though the water starts to get cooler it is still a great time of the year to go swimming with them…

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Common dolphins in Kaikoura

When time allows we do our best to also stop and see NZ Fur Seals at an area called Barney’s Rock along with any of the amazing bird species that are either flying about or taking a rest of the surface such as: Wandering albatross, shy mollymawk, cape petrels, giant northern petrel, Hutton’s shearwater and Buller’s shearwater.

From time to time our crew are able to capture an image or two of their time out whale watching. Here are a few shots that were sent through to me this month – enjoy!

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NZ Fur Seals at Barney's Rock

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Until next month,


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.