Ohau Waterfall Track Temporarily Closed

Due to safety concerns, the Ohau Waterfall Stream track has been closed temporarily.

ohau waterfall track sign

The track is very popular because fur seal pups can often be viewed at the waterfall or in the stream.  These pups are usually 4-10 months old and they spend their time resting and playing while their mothers are at sea feeding.  When the pups get hungry, they head back down the stream and meet their mothers at the coastal colony for a long drink of milk.

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However, in the past few days the story at Ohau has changed.

For the first time in recent history, female fur seals are giving birth to pups up the stream and near the waterfall.  This means that the area is now a breeding ground and must be protected.  Newborn pups are vulnerable to disturbance and mothers need adequate rest to properly care for their young.

In addition, now that there are reproductive females up the stream, several large mature males have followed.  This makes the area hazardous to the public.  We really don’t want anyone to be in close quarters with one of these males, which could weigh up to 150 kg.

Males can be quite aggressive and territorial at this time of the year.  We are currently at the height of the breeding season and males are set on mating with females in the days after she gives birth.

At the request of the landowners, the track has been closed for the time being and DOC Rangers are monitoring the situation closely.

The best place to view fur seals is at the Ohau Point Lookout, just a little further down the road.  From the safety of a viewing platform, visitors can see heaps of new pups and their mothers and can safely watch large males fight and defend their territory.

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.