Weekly Update - 31st July 2017

This week we’ve had some beautiful frosty days in Kaikōura, with the sun making a welcomed appearance. Snow continues to coat the Kaikōura Ranges making for a spectacular sight when the morning sun hits its peaks.

During the week our whale watch trips got to see some of the local Sperm Whales in our waters, including Tiaki, Tutu, Aotearoa as well as Matimati hanging out with a pod of three new Sperm Whales to the region. The NZ Fur Seals and Dusky Dolphins sighted this week are always a crowd pleaser with their fun and inquisitive nature around us and our vessel. It’s not uncommon for the Duskies to follow us while we’re cruising along in pursuit of the Sperm Whale, and we are continually amazed at how high they can propel themselves out of the water! It’s quite a show to see the pods jumping in coordination with each other.

Whale tail, Kaikoura NZ

Photo Cred: Tehlia Richardson

No Humpback Whales were sighted this week but they are still on their annual migration and pass through Kaikōura up until late August so fingers crossed our tours encounter some more before they disappear to the warmer waters of Tonga for their mating and breeding season.

The Kaikōura Trench not only provides an abundance of food for the Sperm Whales, but also for seabirds, making Kaikōura one of New Zealand’s albatross hotspots. This week on our tours we were able to see Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Buller Mollymawk, Shy Mollymawk and the Black Browned Mollymawk.

Albatross skimming low over the water

Kaikōura’s annual 48 Hours in Kaikoura photography competition is on this weekend, so if you’re booked in for our weekend tours then don’t forget to bring your camera to capture Kaikōura’s marine life in their natural habitat. This year’s competition will be made even more interesting with the new seascapes and landscapes that have emerged since the November 7.8 magnitude earthquake, giving you the chance to get snap happy with some of the newest land in our beautiful country.

Last week the government announced $231 million in additional funding to improve State Highway 1 in the Kaikōura region. This will increase safety, resilience, reliability, access and amenity and provide a higher level of service on the road for people living in the area and visitors to the region.

Recommended walking and cycling options on SH1 between Christchurch and Clarence

Image Sourced: NZTA. Concept of the recommended options for the ‘walking and cycling’ upgrades.

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.

As we enter into 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.

Modified trailer and public jetty used to launch whale watch vessel, Tohora

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

IntercityHasslefree 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.

Work-in-progress of railways between Christchurch and Picton

Image Sourced: NZTA

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

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