Who We Are

Whale Watch is a multiple national and international award winning New Zealand nature-based Tourism Company owned and operated by the indigenous Ngāti Kuri people of Kaikōura, a Māori sub-tribe of the South Island's larger Ngāi Tahu Tribe.

Bill Solomon, Ngāti Kuri leader

Whale Watch was formed in 1987 at a time when Māori were casualties of Kaikōura’s declining economy. At this time of difficulty, Ngāti Kuri leaders like (The late) Bill Solomon believed the local Sperm Whales held the answer to the unemployment problems of the Māori community. They knew their ancestor Paikea had journeyed to a new life in New Zealand on the back of the whale Tohorā. It seemed appropriate for Paikea's descendants to again ride on the back of the whale to a new life and prosperity.

And so it proved to be.

The Ngāti Kuri founders of Whale Watch mortgaged their houses to secure a loan to start the business. In the early days passengers travelled aboard a 6.7 metre inflatable vessel carrying 8 passengers at a time. In the first year of operation 3,000 passengers were carried. In time, the inflatable was replaced by a larger vessel with an upper viewing deck until today the Whale Watch fleet numbers four modern catamarans specially designed for whale watching, each holding 48 passengers. Now up to 100,000 passengers can be carried each year. The expansion of the Whale Watch fleet required the building of an entire marina in South Bay. It is from here that all whale watching tours now depart.

Due to the phenomenal success of Whale Watch, Kaikōura is now one of New Zealand's leading eco-tourism destinations offering a diverse range of exciting activities and experiences. The company has stimulated investment in new accommodation, restaurants and an impressive array of cafes and galleries filled with the work of local artists.

Paikea and Tohorā still form the symbolic centre of Whale Watch. They represent the spiritual bond between the human world and the natural world and speak of the possibilities that reveal themselves when the world of nature is revered rather than exploited.

Kia Ora Friends

***WHALE WATCH KAIKOURA UPDATE***

It is fantastic being back out on the water with successful tours, fantastic sightings along with many happy passengers and crew alike. Over the last week we have been able to see sperm whales, dusky dolphins, Hector’s dolphins, NZ fur seals, marine birds. 

We are currently switching between using a berth and our modified trailer unit for launching our vessel Tohorā in the Kaikōura Marina, this is due to tidal restrictions and repair work that is taking place post-earthquake following the uplift of the coastline by +1.0m. Launching from the trailer is how we loaded our passengers in the old days of whale watching.

Please note that post-earthquake, available tour times are now based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised. 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. We are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours operating per day, please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.

Our Customer Service team are ready to take your calls or answer your emails. They are available from 7am daily.

Our gift shop is also open 9am – 3pm. There are many fantastic marine & local based products available both in store and online BUY ONLINE TODAY

Flukes Café is also open from 9am – 3pm with fresh baking, great coffee, friendly service and stunning views on offer.

Kaikōura Business Update:

Transport Update:

Please note there are speed restrictions in place for both road accesses. (All subject to weather conditions, slips, repair work and seismic activity). Updates available from the NZTA WEBSITE.

Intercity has also re-introduced daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, timings as follows:        

8728      Departs Christchurch     07:00          Arrives Kaikōura  09:40
8727      Departs Kaikōura          15:50         Arrives Christchurch 18:25

Please visit their website for more details and trip bookings INTERCITY BUS SERVICE

Again our team appreciate your continued support over the last 2 months,

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura