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 it all over the weekend – sunshine, wild wind, sleet, warmth, cold and beautiful new snow on the Kaikoura ranges. Despite the conditions over the weekend in the days leading up we had some great tours with sightings of semi-resident sperm whales Manu and Tiaki and hen time allowed we also saw dusky dolphins, Hector’s dolphins, NZ fur seals and marine birds.

The most recent update on State Highway 1 South from Kaikoura is that it is expected to remain closed till the end of May to allow the construction of a temporary road and rail alignment around the base of the large landslide that came down during April’s heavy rain at Easter. Please allow extra time as you travel through Inland Route 70 which 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 by October 2017.

Dredging of the outer channel of the Kaikōura marina is well advanced.

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.

Intercity, 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.

Please consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura, your support is most welcome.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.