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


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