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,


Over the last week we had fantastic tours with great sightings of semi-resident sperm whales Tutu, Tiaki and Manu who were feeding reasonably close inshore. When time allowed we also viewed dusky & Hector’s dolphins, NZ fur seals and marine birds.

Winter has been making itself well and truly known over the last few days which reminds us to be taking care on the roads especially earlier in the day when ice can be an issue. For those of you who enjoy time on the slopes, local family owned ski field Mt Lyford is due to open on the 29th June (just in time for the school holidays!).


• The highway will be open during daylight hours on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays (perfect for a long weekend getaway)

• 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 the end of September.

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 being made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina and we continue to switch between using a berth and our modified trailer unit for launching our vessel Tohorā, when and where possible we are also making use of the public jetty that we have modified, this is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully restored in October 2017.

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 or 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 Business Update:

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. 

Transport Update:

All subject to weather conditions, slips, repair work and seismic activity. Updates available from the NZTA WEBSITE.

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.

Not long until the July School Holidays - why not bring your family to Kaikōura & join us for a whale watch tour? There is also plenty to see & do before or after you join with us. Please consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura, your support is most welcome. July School Holiday Special

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.