Conservation Policy

Whale Watch is committed to providing a quality whale watching experience while carefully managing the use of a rare natural resource. We are visitors to the world of the whales and respect it as such at all times.

Diving sperm whale tail, Manu, Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Sustainable Tourism

As a Māori-owned company, Whale Watch cherishes the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world. It is a philosophy that embraces people, the land, the sea and all living things as one. Perhaps this is why so many of our visitors tell us our tours provide them with a spiritual experience.

Since arriving in the Kaikōura area in 850AD, Ngāi Tahu have formed a sustainable relationship with Kaikōura's entire ecosystem including the marine ecosystem that maintains the whales in their natural environment. Nothing within that sustainable philosophy will allow Ngāi Tahu to harm this ecosystem that keeps the whales close to Kaikōura. For dozens of generations over many centuries this view of life has been fundamental to our ancestors. There must always be enough - more than enough - to sustain life in its entire spiritual and physical sense. Thus for Ngāi Tahu and Whale Watch, the word 'sustainable' has both a physical and spiritual meaning. It goes to the heart and soul of being Māori. It is a core principle of the whale watching experience we share with our visitors. Ngāi Tahu have lived with whales for over 1000 years. We intend to live with them for another 1000 years.

All Whale Watch vessels are specially designed for whale watching. Our modern catamarans are powered by inboard diesel engines and equipped with Hamilton propulsion units that minimise underwater noise. All on-board toilets are self-contained and never allowed to pollute the sea. Detailed records are kept for each trip, covering personalised identification of every whale seen, its location and any unusual whale behaviour. This information is part of the on-going contribution to scientific research by Whale Watch. Some Sperm Whales that visit Kaikōura regularly appear to recognise and trust the Whale Watch boats and do not mind being approached. New whales, though, prefer the boats to keep further away. Whale Watch skippers recognise individual whales and adjust operations to suit each whale.

Vessels used for whale watch tours at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Whale Watch is proud of their many awards that recognise their commitment to the preservation of the environment. Whale Watch Chairman Wally Stone says, 

"Whale Watch isn't about to do anything which will adversely affect the whales that provide year-round income - or drive them from the coast. We have the most to lose, so we won't be doing anything to jeopardise the whales in our waters." 

Whale Watch is a staunch ally of the marine conservation movement. Wally Stone points to the support Whale Watch gives to the ongoing international fight to protect whales from a renewal of commercial killing and the resumption of trade in whale products. Japan and Norway continue to vigorously lobby members of the International Whaling Commission to re-introduce commercial whaling. Both nations still take hundreds of whales each year for "scientific purposes" when in fact the whale meat ends up in fish markets. Wally Stone says the Whale Watch '"experience" sends a powerful message to those who wish to slaughter whales. 

"We see our business as reinforcing the anti-industrial whaling message. This in turn reinforces whale preservation, the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary and the whale protection stances adopted by many members of the International Whaling Commission."

It remains a sad fact that the very same whales seen aboard Whale Watch tours may be killed by commercial whalers once outside New Zealand waters.

It can be heard in the song of the bird,
It can be felt in the breath of each new day,
It lives in the spirit of Mother Earth;
It lives in our hearts and it will be witnessed
Through the eyes of our children

Conservation Challenges

Did you know that eventually much of the pollution we create on land makes its way into the ocean? Even if we live a long way from the ocean our actions, good and bad can have an effect on every living creature in the sea, including the whales! Please check out Challenge 1 and Challenge 2.

Packing Strap found on one of our tours

Packing strap pulled out of the ocean by Whale Watch Sea Crew

***WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA UPDATE***

Over the last week we have had around 3 to 4 sperm whales feeding close inshore which has made for some fantastic sightings. There has also been a humpback whale visiting Kaikōura over the last couple of weeks which has been making itself known on our tours also much to our crew and customers delight. Dolphins, NZ fur seals and marine birds have also regular viewings on our tours.

For guests who are planning on joining us over the next week please note NZTA have issued a notice to all travellers that State Highway 1 Coastal Route south from Kaikōura to Christchurch is closed to all traffic from 8pm on Sunday 26 March to 7am on Tuesday 4 April. This is to allow remedial work to take place and to make the coastal route more resilient during times of unfavourable weather. Please use Inland Route 70 which is open 24/7 during this time, please also allow extra time in your travel plans when using this alternative route.

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 a first for us but when presented with challenges we have embraced them post-earthquake and used our ingenuity) 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.

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 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.