About the location, Kaikōura

Few places on Earth possess the magic of Kaikōura. Many who visit leave transformed. It is a special part of New Zealand, imbued with powerful natural energy. A place where tectonic plates collide, towering peaks fall to the sea and ocean currents converge.

Such rare combinations lure an abundance of marine wildlife, the most famous being the Giant Sperm Whale. It was a whale that led the Māori ancestor Paikea to New Zealand many centuries ago. His descendants live in Kaikōura today. Fittingly, the whale continues to guide the people of Kaikōura and the visitors they host.

Kaikōura is one of New Zealand's leading eco-tourism destinations offering a variety of exciting activities and experiences. Despite the recent rise in tourist numbers, the town retains much of its historical charm. Many new motels, cafes and restaurants can be found in beautifully restored old buildings. Fresh local seafood is always on the menu. The retention of the town's distinctive character has made Kaikōura extremely attractive to artists. Their work, inspired by the remarkable landscape and wildlife, can be seen all over town.

Kaikōura is committed to protecting its unique environment and is the first destination in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve Earth Check Platinum Accreditation recognising the communities’ activities to reduce its environmental impact.

Kaikōura Peninsula

Kaikōura marine management area

The new Kaikōura Marine Management Area developed to conserve Kaikōura’s whales, dolphins, seals, albatrosses, rock lobster, shellfish and finfish was formally opened by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith on the 6th August 2014.

Great news for the beautiful marine life that we have off the Kaikōura Coastline providing us with New Zealands first Whale and Seal Sanctuaries and deepest Marine Reserve.

For more information about the new whale sanctuary, fur seal sanctuary and marine reserve in Kaikōura please click on the following: Hikurangi Marine Reserve.

The chart below highlights the new sanctuaries and marine reserve areas in Kaikōura. For more detailed information on these areas please read the following Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura - Kaikoura Marine Management Area (pdf).

Even though we’re still in the last month of Winter, it’s starting to feel more and more like Spring! It was a cracker weekend here in Kaikōura with amazing sea conditions and picture perfect days to go along with it.

This week we saw semi-residential whales Tiaki, Matimati, Tutu and Aoraki as well as some visiting Sperm Whales to our region. It’s so encouraging to see these whales returning to our region time and time again as they are always our favourites to see out on the water.

Four Humpback Whales were seen on our tours this week. September marks the end of their annual migration, so it’s not too long until we stop seeing the most acrobatic whales on the planet on our tours completely until next year’s journey takes them back through Kaikōura waters again.

Wednesday’s tour got to see a pod of 300 Dusky Dolphins playing with a Giant Warty Squid, also known as the Longarm Octopus Squid. These squid grow up to two meters in length and are a staple part of the Sperm Whale’s diet. A truly spectacular sight to see!

We currently have an end of winter sale on at our Retail Store at the moment, a whopping 25% off all hoodies, jackets and merino items! We need to make room for new summer stock, so head over to our online store to get your hands on some winter goodies.

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. Below is a graphic (indicative only) of what is being restored at the marina.

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.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.