Sea Birds of Kaikōura

While our tours mainly focus on viewing sperm whales – year round residents off the Kaikōura coastline, we also can view throughout our tours a diverse array of seabirds. Sightings ranging from albatross, petrels, shearwaters, terns and gulls. Kaikōura is home to more seabird species in a small area to anywhere else in New Zealand. Amazing!

One of the reasons for such a large number of different types of seabirds in Kaikōura is the deep underwater trench that runs so close inshore – the Kaikōura Canyon. Upwellings of cold nutrient rich water move along the base of the trench towards the coast, it then begins to rise, bringing with it nutrients from the deep ocean which then encourages a food chain which is constantly being replenished and enables us to view whales, dolphins, seals and marine birds on our tours.

Here are some images taken recently by one of our crew (Jaime Brown) of seabirds during one of our tours. Magnificent creatures that are truly magical to watch whether it be catching the updraft of wind off the sea swell, feasting of pieces of squid or fish left behind on the surface or even just at rest. 

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Northern Giant Petrel


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Northern Giant Petrel


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Wandering albatross has such a huge wing span


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Bullers Shearwaters alongside a sperm whale


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Westland Petrel taking off

Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year with not just the stunning colours that come with this season but also the calm days we can get out at sea along with fantastic sightings. We were able to see sperm whales, pilot whales, a humpback whale and various species of dolphins as well as NZ fur seals and marine birds out on our tours last week.

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 operational by the middle of this year.

Dredging of the Coastguard channel has begun with specialised equipment that arrived in Kaikōura over the weekend.

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 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 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.