A Look Back Over February 2016

February was a great month in Kaikōura, we had fantastic summer weather, amazing sightings of semi-resident sperm whales along with various visiting cetacean. It was also very busy due to Chinese New Year with many Chinese visitors coming to visit us.

Summer evenings are the best

Summer evenings are the best

 

We had six regulars feeding close inshore this month: Tutu, Tiaki, Manu, Saddleback, Koru and MatiMati. Tutu, Manu, Saddleback and Tiaki have been visiting Kaikoura during our summer months for many years now with Koru and MatiMati becoming regulars over the last few years. We can tell individual sperm whales apart by different markings, scars and shapes of their tails. Tutu has quite a distinctive tail which droops down on either end – whereas Tiaki’s tail has an indentation on the inner section of his flukes. 

Tail time

Tail time

Throughout summer we can at times also see many other species of whales & dolphins paying a visit to Kaikoura:

1 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

2 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

2 Feb – Common Dolphins x20

3 Feb – Orca x12

3 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

4 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

5 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

6 Feb – Humpback Whale x1

7 Feb – Orca x8

10 Feb – Orca x6

14 Feb – Common Dolphins x100

16 Feb – Orca x6

20 Feb – Orca x6

20 Feb – Common Dolphins x100

27 Feb – Orca x6

28 Feb – Orca x6

The Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins that were visiting with us for part of January and February seemed to stop off here for a time to give birth to same calves. One of our crew managed to get some great pics of these calves who still had their birth rings being just a few days old. So special.

 

New born Pilot Whale

New born Pilot Whale

Mother and calf - Bottlenose Dolphin

Mother and calf - Bottlenose Dolphin

With the water temperature being warmer during February we were able to see at times dark red patches in the water which was krill. Krill is a small crustacean that baleen whales fed on – Humpback, Blue, and Southern Right to name a few. It is always a good sign to us when we see krill that the food chain is healthy.

 

Krill Side View

Krill

As always when times allows we move further inshore and do our best to view NZ fur seals resting up on the rocks along the Kaikoura Coastline. These seals although they look like they are being lazy are actually exhausted and building up strength before heading back out to sea for another 3-4 days feeding before coming back in to rest up again before their next feeding trip out to sea.

There were plenty of marine birds species also sighted this month, such as – wandering albatross, royal albatross, shy mollymawks, cape petrels, giant northern petrels, Hutton’s shearwaters, blue penguins, terns, gulls and shags.

 

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Largest bird in flight - Wandering Albatross

As you can see Kaikoura is a very special place, we are blessed with the abundance of marine life that not only call Kaikoura home but also pass by our coastline at different times of the year.

We have a great app that is free to download and full of great information about the marine life we can see out on our tours, well worth checking out. 

Until next month,

Lisa

We had some stunning weather over the weekend along with some great sightings on our tours. Not only were we able to see sperm whales but also the rare opportunity of seeing a pod of beaked whales pass by the Kaikōura coastline. Not a common sight at all and one that is very treasured by all when we do.

Over the weekend we also had a visit from a couple of the crew from Emirates Team New Zealand with the America’s Cup. It was great to have the opportunity to see the cup up close. Check out this video to see how the afternoon went.

The Huttons Shearwater (Tītī) are special to us in Kaikōura. Their habitat sustained considerable loss during the Nov 2016 earthquake. Please take the time to vote for them as Bird of the Year and this status will help secure the much needed funding for more research so we can plan for their future.

REGULAR, SCHEDULED CLOSURES OF STATE HIGHWAY 1 SOUTH OF KAIKOURA

The highway will be open during daylight hours on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays (perfect for a long weekend getaway) from 7AM to 7PM.

The highway will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for repairs to take place. 

The closure schedule is expected to remain in place until December 2017.

There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Please be aware that this week is a full closure week - Monday 16 to Friday 20 October. The road will reopen to the public midday on Friday 20 October for Labour weekend travellers. Another full week closure is scheduled for Monday 6 to Friday 10 November. 

Something worth celebrating...

Restoration work on the Kaikoura marina begun 10 months ago, and over the weekend we celebrated being able to now use berth 3 & 4. We have been using our trailer unit & the public jetty for some time now so to be able to pull up into our berths is quite an exciting feat. We still have a wee way to go but this is a HUGE step closer to being fully operational. We are very thankful for the amazing work the harbour repair crew are doing in what are at times trying conditions. We are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! We cannot thank the tireless effort that the workers have put in to get us to this stage especially in what has been trying conditions at times.

More great news…

We thank you all for your patience over the last 11 months with the changing tour times with having work in line with the tides but with being able to now use berth 3 & 4 it means that we are now back running on our original fixed tour timetable. 0715, 1000, 1245 & 1530 (Nov-Mar)

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 ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express 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.

11 months on and we are starting to see some real progress – the teams out on the road, rail and the marina are all doing such an amazing job for which we are so thankful. And, we cannot thank you all enough for your continual support.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura