When is the best time to come whale watching?

A question I get asked often is “When is the best time to come whale watching?” My first answer would be “Every day is a good day to come whale watching” after all we have sperm whale feeding off our coastline all year round. It is a bachelor pad of male sperm whales that come here to feed upon the abundance of food which is found in the nutrient rich waters of the Kaikōura Canyon.

 Kaikoura NZ semi-resident sperm whale tail, Tiaki

The weather in New Zealand is often best during the months of October – March, so if you prefer the warmer kind of days then whale watching during the NZ summer is a good bet.  During these months’ we most commonly have the opportunity to view pods of Orca as they pass by, usually in pods of between 6-12 individuals 2 or 3 times a month.

 Pod of Orca off the Kaikoura coast, New Zealand

My second answer is for people who don’t mind weather that is a bit cooler. As mentioned the sperm whales are here all year round, but did you know that Kaikōura is also visited by many other migrating whales, like the humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. 

During the months of June – August for instance humpback whales leave the cool Antarctic waters for the winter period and head further north to the warmer tropical waters of places like Tonga and Australia, stopping off in Kaikōura on their way for a rest before continuing on their huge journey.

 A playful humpback whale leaping from the water at Kaikoura, NZ

For the best opportunity for not only seeing sperm whales but also migrating whales June to August in my option the best time to come whale watching.  An added bonus being the beautiful view from out at sea of the Kaikōura ranges covered in snow and also the wonderful crisp blue sky winters days we can experience in Kaikōura during winter.

 Kaikōura ranges covered in snow against a crisp blue sky

Either way (if the weather plays the game) every day is a good day to come whale watching. We run tours all year long and have a 95% success rate in seeing whales and if for some reason we are unable to locate a whale during the tour we give our passengers 80% of their money back! 

Guests watching a whale surfacing the water at Kaikoura

There have been some beautiful sunrises in Kaikōura over the past week, with more sunshine forecasted for the upcoming days too!

Out on our tours we saw semi-residential Sperm Whales Aoraki, Tutu and Tiaki feeding in the Hikurangi Trench as well as Sperm Whales new to our region. When time allowed, we were able to view NZ Fur Seals on Barney’s Rock, a rock thought to be used as a lookout point by early whalers.

This week we had only one juvenile Humpback Whale passing through our waters. It’s coming to the end of their annual migration which only means one thing, the Summer Orca season is approaching us!

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.

From Tuesday, 22nd August, drivers will need to watch for 28 metre truck loads moving bridge beams to Kaikōura, via the Lewis Pass and the inland road via Waiau/Mt Lyford. The beams are for a new bridge build as well as smaller bridge sites north of Kaikōura. Some minor delays can be expected due to the length of the load and the slow and winding nature of parts of the route. These truckloads are scheduled to follow this inland route until September.

During 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

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.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.