A Look Back Over May 2016

What a beautiful end to autumn we had with the amazing colours from the trees before their leaves fell; we also had some warm autumn’s days to which were welcomed before the chill set in. We are now in to winter with chilly frosty starts to the day and shorter day light hours.


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First big snow fall of May

We had a successful month out on the water with great sightings of not only the resident sperm whales but migrating humpbacks and killer whales.


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Humpback Whale migrating by the Kaikoura Coast

The great thing about Kaikoura is the diversity of marine life we have here due to the deep waters being so close, which is due to the continental shelf running close in off our coastline (at times only 800m from the beach), also because of the abundance of food we have due to the subtropical convergence – this is where two current meet (one from the Antarctic waters & one from the Tropical waters) and collide against each other causing a washing machine effect bringing all the nutrients of the sea floor and begging the food chain, whatever it taken out of the food chain being constantly replenished.

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Sperm whales feast upon around a tonne of food per day so this abundance of food here in Kaikoura being ideal to sustain these whales’ appetites. There were 3 resident sperm whales sighted throughout May: Tutu, Holy Moly & Aotearoa - we are able to identify these whales by the different markings they have, also different shaped dorsal fins etc… 

Passengers on the following tours were blessed in seeing not only sperm whales but also the following migratory species: 

Orca x2 – 19th May

Humpback x3 – 25th May

Orca x6 – 26th May

Humpback x1 – 27th May

Humpback x2 – 28th May


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Orca with some dusky dolphins

We were also fortunate to see dusky dolphins, hector dolphins, common dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and many different species of marine birds on our tours throughout out the month when time and opportunity allowed.


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Albatross taking off

As you can see we had a fantastic month out on the water both conditions wise and sightings wise. 

Until next month – keep warm


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.