Kaikōura - Marine Mecca

Only 5-7mins off our coastline the water depth drops away drastically going from anywhere between 50-100 metres to over 600 metres deep just like that.  This is due to what is known as the continental shelf which runs along the Kaikōura Canyon.  This canyon is 5kms wide at its widest point and 1600mts deep.  There are 2 major currents that funnel into the canyon, one coming up from the cold nutrient rich Antarctic waters and a warm current coming down from the tropics.  These collide against one another which in turns creates an up welling which brings all of the rich nutrients up to the surface which begins the food chain.  This is a continual process therefore never really going short of food in the area.

Kaikoura Canyon

Having this continual upwelling and deep water off our coastline enables Kaikōura to play host too many different species of marine life that reside here all year round – whales, dolphins, seals and marine birds.

 

Dolphins

The waters of Kaikōura are alive with dolphins - sometimes gathering in pods of a few hundred up to a thousand or more depending on the time of the year. The world’s largest and the world's smallest dolphin can be seen in Kaikōura. Some species of dolphins you might see are Common Dolphin, Southern Right Dolphin, Hectors Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and the Dusky Dolphin. You might even spot an Orca (Killer Whale) - they are the largest species of dolphin.

 

Hectors Dolphins

Hector's dolphins

You can swim with the dusky dolphins in Kaikōura; these dusky dolphins can get very close and can be very playful as you snorkel around with the pod. A truly amazing experience whether in the water swimming with them or observing them from on board the boat, both guaranteed to make you smile!

 

BoatDolphins 012

Dolphin Encounter

Seals

New Zealand Fur seals can be observed from various points along the road that hugs the Kaikōura Coast. Hunted to near extinction last century for their skins, they have since become a protected species.

 

Sleeping Fur Seal

Sleeping Fur Seal

You can either view these inquisitive creatures from viewing areas around Kaikōura or for the more adventurous folk you can swim with the seals. This tour is run by a local family who have been taking people out to swim with seals for many years now and love what they do! Or you can go kayaking with the seals – a warmer & drier option but also a great experience not to be missed.

 

Seal Swim

Kayaking with the NZ Fur Seals

Marine Birds

Kaikōura hosts the largest concentration and variety of pelagic birds on mainland New Zealand. Seabirds are attracted in their thousands by the abundance of fish concentrated in Kaikōura's unique combination of deep and shallow waters. Around Kaikōura it is possible to see 13 species of Albatross, 14 species of Petrel, 4 types of Prion and 7 varieties of Shearwater. There are also 4 Cormorant species, 3 types of Gulls and 2 varieties of Penguin

 

Wandering wing span

Marine birds off the Kaikoura coastline

For marine bird enthusiasts a trip out with Albatross Encounter is something not to be missed, this tour is incredible and a great opportunity to experience closely the beauty of the many birds that can be seen off the Kaikōura coastline.

Boat Birds 003

Albatross Encounter

Whales 

Kaikōura is New Zealand's world famous whale watching destination. Sperm Whales can be seen here year-round and are the stars of the show while 7 other whale species visit regularly. Being the champion breath holders (2hrs 17mins being the longest recorded dive but average 40-60mins here) and the deepest diving cetacean (deepest recorded dive was 3195mts) it really is a privilege to be able to see these magnificent creature so up close and personal and so close to land at times only 800 metres off the beach. Some other whale species you might see are the Humpback Whale, Blue Whale, Minke Whale, Pygmy Sperm Whale, Southern Right Whale and Beaked Whale.

whalemix current

Variety of whales & dolphins we can see throughout the year off the Kaikōura coastline

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