Marine Bird Spotlight – Hutton’s Shearwaters (also known as the Titi)

The Hutton’s Shearwater is an endangered seabird endemic to Kaikōura. Kaikōura is the only place in the world that the Hutton Shearwaters breeds, high in the Kaikōura Ranges at elevations between 1200 to 1800 metres.

 

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Titi being bought down from the mountains to the Peninsula colony

This species of shearwater are a medium-sized brown-and-white shearwater, around 36-38cm in length and can have a wingspan of about 75cm and are thought to live for about 30 years.

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Hutton's shearwater chick

During spring and summer, large flocks can often be spotted just offshore from the Kaikōura coastline flying low over the sea or rafted up in very large groups on the water. They consume a variety of crustaceans and small fish.

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Hutton's Shearwaters in flight

Each day adult birds travel approximately 20 kilometres to the sea, to eat fish and krill which are later fed to their young. On their downhill flight they travel at up to 154 km/h, reaching the ocean in as little as seven minutes. The return trip takes around 38 minutes, with 1200 metres or more in altitude to be gained with a bellyful of fish.

Habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals is the main threat to remaining Hutton’s shearwater populations. Deer and chamois are known to trample nesting burrows, stoats and cats will eat young birds and eggs, and pigs would be a major threat if they reached the breeding colonies.

The two remaining breeding colonies are confined to a small area, making the birds extremely vulnerable to events such as landslides or predation which could lead to extinction.

To help secure the long-term survival of Hutton’s shearwater/tītī, a third colony (Te Rae o Atiu) was established on the Kaikōura Peninsula in 2005, to ensure long-term survival. This was a joint project by Te Runanga o Kaikōura, Whale Watch and the Department of Conservation, with support from Forest & Bird and the local community. While the Peninsula is significantly lower in altitude than existing colonies, the fact that seabirds are known to have bred here previously suggests this is a suitable site.

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Kaikōura Peninsula site

To learn more about the great work being down at the Kaikōura Peninsula site by the Hutton’s Shearwater Trust along with more information about these beautiful birds please check out the following website www.huttonsshearwater.org.nz

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Welcome home ceremony for the Hutton's Shearwater

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School children learning about the endangered shearwater

Even though we’re still in the last month of Winter, it’s starting to feel more and more like Spring! It was a cracker weekend here in Kaikōura with amazing sea conditions and picture perfect days to go along with it.

This week we saw semi-residential whales Tiaki, Matimati, Tutu and Aoraki as well as some visiting Sperm Whales to our region. It’s so encouraging to see these whales returning to our region time and time again as they are always our favourites to see out on the water.

Four Humpback Whales were seen on our tours this week. September marks the end of their annual migration, so it’s not too long until we stop seeing the most acrobatic whales on the planet on our tours completely until next year’s journey takes them back through Kaikōura waters again.

Wednesday’s tour got to see a pod of 300 Dusky Dolphins playing with a Giant Warty Squid, also known as the Longarm Octopus Squid. These squid grow up to two meters in length and are a staple part of the Sperm Whale’s diet. A truly spectacular sight to see!

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.

REGULAR, SCHEDULED CLOSURES OF STATE HIGHWAY 1 SOUTH OF KAIKOURA

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 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.

KAIKOURA 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

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.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.