Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Please carefully review our terms & conditions before you purchase a ticket.

 

By purchasing a ticket, you confirm that you have read, understood and accept our tour terms and conditions:

Our Tour - Terms & Conditions


Where is your main office located?

 

Our office is located at The Whaleway Station, Whaleway Station Road, Kaikoura 7300, New Zealand

We are the only building on this road.

We have a large carpark available for customer parking during daylight hours only. There is no overnight camping or parking permitted.


Are you operating tours?

 

YES

Whale Watch tours are available every day (excluding Christmas Day). 

You can book seats on these tours HERE NOW

All our tours are subject to favorable sea and weather conditions.

Our standard office operating hours are between 0900-1630.

  • Operating hours may be extended depending on customer demand and scheduled tours.

Please note:

Minimum numbers are required for all sailings to proceed.

If you would like to talk with one of our Customer Support Officers, please call the FREEPHONE number 0800 655 121.

Please note:

Passengers travelling to us on the day of their tour are strongly encouraged to telephone the FREEPHONE number 0800 655 121 for an update on your tour status.

Decisions on whether a tour will sail or not are made by the captain only, on the day of the tour and normally 15min prior to the check-in time so the most current sea and weather conditions are understood.

Given we operate in the open ocean, sea and weather condition can change quickly.

We cannot guarantee that a tour will sail, if you are travelling to us from out of town, please be mindful of this possibility.


How much does a tour cost?

 

Oceans Cabin

  • Ocean Cabin Adult NZ$165.00 MORE INFO
  • Ocean Cabin Child NZ$60.00 (3-15yrs inclusive)
  • VIP Captain's Cabin Adult/Child NZ$240.00 MORE INFO
  • Rates above valid to the 30th of September 2024

VIP Captain's Cabin

  • Individual food packs are provided to each pre-booked passenger in this cabin class.
  • You will need to advise us of any food allergies so these can be catered for accordingly. 
  • Because the food packs are made offsite daily by an independent provider, any requests to upgrade bookings after the tour check-in begins will be unable to be provided with a food pack. This will be explained further at the time of check-in should you wish to request an upgrade.
  • We strongly advise you to book your ticket in the VIP Captain's Cabin prior to your preferred day of travel to ensure your individual food pack.

Tour costs can change without notice.

Please note:

  • No charge applies to any booking changes made.
  • No booking fee is charged.
  • No credit card transaction fee is charged.
  • No refunds will be given in the event of your failure to notify us of your cancellation 48 hours before the check-in time.

Children under 3yrs are not permitted on the tour. Please See here for further details on our child policy.

There is an independent local provider Kaikoura Childcare that can offer a childcare service should you require it. 

Please note:

This is an independent service provider so all arrangements for childcare will need to be made directly with them.


What are the tour times?

 

All year: 7.15am, 10.00am, 12.45pm & 3.30pm (November-March)

Tour scheduling is always subject to customer demand.

Please note:

The tour time you have booked for is when check-in begins. It is not when your tour departs.

You do not need to arrive at our office any earlier than your tour time for check-in.


What is the duration of the tour?

 

Including check-in at our main office and bus transfers to and from our marina at South Bay you should allow 3-hours and 15-mins in total.

Actual time on the water is just over 2-hours.


What time should I meet for the tour?

 

At the tour time you have booked for to check-in at our main office.

You do not need to be at our office any earlier than your tour time to check-in.

30-min is allocated for check-in procedures which includes being issued with a ticket.

Please note:

The tour time is your check-in time only, it is not when the tour departs, there is no need to be with us any earlier than your tour time to check-in.


How do I make a reservation?

 

To make an immediate confirmed booking with payment by credit card, click BOOK NOW. (The name Whale Watch Kaikōura will appear on cardholder statements for bookings made through this website.)

Contact Information
Freephone
0800 655 121
International
+ 64 3 319 6767
Fax
+ 64 3 319 6545
Email
res@whalewatch.co.nz

We accept VISA, MASTERCARD and UNION PAY credit cards. WeChat Pay and Alipay payment options are also available both online & at point of sale.


Do I need to book in advance?

 

YES

There is high demand for our tours. To minimize disappointment, we strongly advise you to BOOK NOW well in advance.


Do you take passengers in wheelchairs?

 

YES

If the sea conditions are suitable, we are able to take wheelchair passengers with us, however there are times when our captains may place a mobility restriction on our tours if they deem sea conditions unsuitable. See here for further details on Wheel Chair Accessibility. 

Whale Watch Kaikōura has a Gold Trax Seal of Approval. The Trax Seal of Approval is New Zealand’s benchmark of Adaptive Adventure Travel & Inclusive Tourism. Find other inclusive tourism operators in New Zealand here


Mobility or other Health concerns?

 

Please advise us when making your booking or at check-in if you have any mobility or health concerns, we should be made aware of.

At times the captain will put additional safety restrictions on due to sea and weather conditions that will restrict on safety grounds, who we can carry on a tour.


Am I guaranteed to see a whale?

 

NO. We are viewing the whales in their natural environment.

However, the chances are very high. Whale Watch have a 95% success rate in finding whales on our tours. If your tour does not see a whale, we guarantee to refund 80% of your fare.

We typically see 1-2 whales per tour.

For the avoidance of doubt, a whale, as defined by the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992, means all species commonly known as whales; and includes baleen whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whales and pilot whales.


What will I see?

 

Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience, and the sightings vary. We typically see 1-2 whales per tour.  Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikōura often hosts Orca especially during our summer months. Kaikōura is also home to the world's smallest and rarest marine dolphin - Hector. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwaters. If your Whale Watch tour does not see a whale, we will refund 80% of your fare.

For the avoidance of doubt, a whale, as defined by the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992, means all species commonly known as whales; and includes baleen whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whales and pilot whales.

Please note:

That during the months of Nov - Mar there is a rest period in place for viewing of the Dusky Dolphins between the hours of 11.30am to 1.30pm. This is mandatory for all vessels and has been put in place by the Department of Conservation, this restricts viewing of Dusky Dolphins on our tours during these times. 


Does Whale Watch Kaikōura have rules & regulations to follow?

 

YES

We meet all New Zealand regulatory rules and requirements for our type of operation and hold a current Marine Mammal Permit for commercial marine mammal watching from the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

All Whale Watch Kaikōura interactions with marine mammals are governed by the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations of 1992 administered by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

These regulations ensure that the marine mammals of New Zealand are protected and that their conservation is a top priority.

Please note:

At times images viewed on our website and social media channels etc. have been taken with a zoom lens. Our interactions with marine mammals adhere to all regulations set in place, with these being outlined during our tours.


What is classified as a whale under New Zealand regulations?

 

Under the New Zealand Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 which governs all our interactions with marine mammals.

Whale means -

All species commonly known as whales; and includes baleen whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whales, and pilot whales.

Dolphin means - 

All species commonly known as dolphins; and includes dusky dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and Hector’s dolphins; but

Does not include the species known as killer whales and pilot whales.

The Regulations


What happens if the sea and weather conditions are not suitable?

 

Whale Watch tours are always dependent on favorable sea and weather conditions given we operate on the open ocean.

Captains constantly monitor the sea and weather conditions and respond professionally to any changes.

This may mean a tour is cancelled or additional safety restrictions are placed on for children, passengers with medical conditions or mobility challenges.

Passenger comfort and safety is of paramount importance to us.


If my tour is cancelled, will I be transferred to the next one?

 

NO 

When a tour is cancelled, we will do our best to accommodate you on another one. However, you need to request this, and is entirely dependent on availability.


What should I wear on my whale watch tour?

 

Dress warmly and wear flat shoes.

If you wish to spend time on the outside decks of our vessels, you may need light waterproof clothing depending on the sea and weather conditions.

Layers of clothing is advised that way you can add or take away clothing depending on conditions out to sea.


What if I suffer from motion-sickness?

 

Because we operate out on the open ocean motion sickness for some can be inevitable. We strongly advise you to take precautions. 

If you are susceptible to motion-sickness the Whale Watch Gift Shop sells natural active motion sickness tablets as well as Sea Legs (information provided at time of purchase).

All our Whale Watch tours are graded with a motion sickness warning and advised during check-in.

  • A moderate chance of motion sickness is the standard warning provided for all our tours because we operate on the open ocean.
  • A high chance of motion sickness is our highest warning and indicates that conditions are such that the chance of becoming seasick is at its highest.

We also have a small number of motion sickness VR googles on our vessels to assist with the feelings of motion sickness.

If all these things fail, we have a good supply of motion sickness bags onboard.


Is there WIFI on-board your tours?

 

YES 

We have free WIFI on-board our boats as well as in and around our offices where you check-in for your tour.


Can I buy batteries or memory cards aboard the whale watch vessels?

 

NO 

So please stock up on these items at the Whale Watch Gift Shop before departure.


Does Whale Watch sell food and drinks aboard whale watch vessels?

 

NO

Food and drink is only available in the VIP Captain's Cabin as part of your ticket price for this premium cabin class.

Feel free to bring your own food and beverages on board. (No Alcohol is permitted on our tours)

We do have water fountains on board.


Covid19

 

Whale Watch monitors the latest New Zealand public health advice and adapts operations accordingly.

Current Themes:

  1. If you feel unwell or are a positive case of Covid19 please stay home.  
  2. Please practice good hygiene, wash your hands often and remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  3. We ask that you please listen to all instructions provided to you by our team, please be patient and kind.

Nau Mai Haere Mai Ki Whale Watch Kaikoura  

To check our tour availability or to secure your place now please click BOOK NOW

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:

  • The tour time you have booked for is when check-in begins and is not when the tour departs, for that reason, there is no need for you to arrive at our office any earlier than at your tour time to check-in.
  • For further information on our tour, please visit FIND OUT MORE