Conservation Policy

Whale Watch is committed to providing a quality whale watching experience while carefully managing the use of a rare natural resource. We are visitors to the world of the whales and respect it as such at all times.

Diving sperm whale tail, Manu, Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Sustainable Tourism

As a Māori-owned company, Whale Watch cherishes the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world. It is a philosophy that embraces people, the land, the sea and all living things as one. Perhaps this is why so many of our visitors tell us our tours provide them with a spiritual experience.

Since arriving in the Kaikōura area in 850AD, Ngāi Tahu have formed a sustainable relationship with Kaikōura's entire ecosystem including the marine ecosystem that maintains the whales in their natural environment. Nothing within that sustainable philosophy will allow Ngāi Tahu to harm this ecosystem that keeps the whales close to Kaikōura. For dozens of generations over many centuries this view of life has been fundamental to our ancestors. There must always be enough - more than enough - to sustain life in its entire spiritual and physical sense. Thus for Ngāi Tahu and Whale Watch, the word 'sustainable' has both a physical and spiritual meaning. It goes to the heart and soul of being Māori. It is a core principle of the whale watching experience we share with our visitors. Ngāi Tahu have lived with whales for over 1000 years. We intend to live with them for another 1000 years.

All Whale Watch vessels are specially designed for whale watching. Our modern catamarans are powered by inboard diesel engines and equipped with Hamilton propulsion units that minimise underwater noise. All on-board toilets are self-contained and never allowed to pollute the sea. Detailed records are kept for each trip, covering personalised identification of every whale seen, its location and any unusual whale behaviour. This information is part of the on-going contribution to scientific research by Whale Watch. Some Sperm Whales that visit Kaikōura regularly appear to recognise and trust the Whale Watch boats and do not mind being approached. New whales, though, prefer the boats to keep further away. Whale Watch skippers recognise individual whales and adjust operations to suit each whale.

Vessels used for whale watch tours at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Whale Watch is proud of their many awards that recognise their commitment to the preservation of the environment. Whale Watch Chairman Wally Stone says, 

"Whale Watch isn't about to do anything which will adversely affect the whales that provide year-round income - or drive them from the coast. We have the most to lose, so we won't be doing anything to jeopardise the whales in our waters." 

Whale Watch is a staunch ally of the marine conservation movement. Wally Stone points to the support Whale Watch gives to the ongoing international fight to protect whales from a renewal of commercial killing and the resumption of trade in whale products. Japan and Norway continue to vigorously lobby members of the International Whaling Commission to re-introduce commercial whaling. Both nations still take hundreds of whales each year for "scientific purposes" when in fact the whale meat ends up in fish markets. Wally Stone says the Whale Watch '"experience" sends a powerful message to those who wish to slaughter whales. 

"We see our business as reinforcing the anti-industrial whaling message. This in turn reinforces whale preservation, the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary and the whale protection stances adopted by many members of the International Whaling Commission."

It remains a sad fact that the very same whales seen aboard Whale Watch tours may be killed by commercial whalers once outside New Zealand waters.

It can be heard in the song of the bird,
It can be felt in the breath of each new day,
It lives in the spirit of Mother Earth;
It lives in our hearts and it will be witnessed
Through the eyes of our children

Conservation Challenges

Did you know that eventually much of the pollution we create on land makes its way into the ocean? Even if we live a long way from the ocean our actions, good and bad can have an effect on every living creature in the sea, including the whales! Please check out Challenge 1 and Challenge 2.

Packing Strap found on one of our tours

Packing strap pulled out of the ocean by Whale Watch Sea Crew

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