Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a tour cost?

Adult NZ$150.00 valid to 30 September 2018.   

Child rate NZ$60.00 (3-15yrs inclusive).

Children under 3yrs are not permitted on the tour. See here for further details on our child policy.

Tour costs can change without notice.

Please note:

What are the tour times?

All year: 7.15am, 10.00am, 12.45pm & 3.30pm (Nov-Mar)—Please note that these are check-in times only - please do not come earlier than the times specified.

Tour scheduling is subject to customer demand, please note that check-in times do not indicate when the actual tour departs but when check-in procedures begin. Whale Watch operate tours every day (weather permitting) excluding Christmas Day. Tour check-in occurs at the Whaleway Station (Whale Watch Office).

How do I make a reservation?

To make an immediate confirmed booking with payment by credit card, click Book Now. (The name Whale Watch Kaikoura will appear on cardholder statements for bookings made through this website.)

Contact Information
Freephone
0800 655 121
International
+ 64 3 319 6767
Fax
+ 64 3 319 6545
Email
res@whalewatch.co.nz

Please call our 0800 number for a weather update if travelling to Kaikoura on your day of travel with us.

We accept VISA, MASTERCARD and UNION PAY credit cards! (Please Note: Union Pay Co-Association Visa or Mastercard can be used for online bookings, Union Pay Credit Card or Debit Card cannot be used for online bookings).

Do I need to book in advance?

Yes. There is a high demand for our tours. We advise you to book well in advance.

Am I guaranteed to see a whale?

No. However, the chances are very high. Whale Watch have a 95% success rate in finding whales. If your tour does not see a whale we guarantee to refund 80% of your fare.

What will I see?

Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikōura often hosts the world's largest dolphin - the Orca - and is home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hector's. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwater. If your Whale Watch Kaikoura tour does not see a whale we will refund 80% of your fare.

Please note that during the months of Nov - Mar there is a rest period in place for viewing of the Dusky Dolphins between the hours of 11.30am to 1.30pm. This is mandatory for all vessels and has been put in place by the Department of Conservation, this restricts viewing of dolphins on our tours during these times. 

When will the Kaikoura marina be repaired?

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. 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 an indicative graphic of what is being restored at the marina.

harbour graphic

Do Whale Watch Kaikoura have rules & regulations to follow?

Yes. Whale Watch Kaikoura follows the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1978 and Marine Mammal Protection Regulations of 1992. These ensure that the marine mammals of New Zealand are protected and that their conservation is of top priority.

Please note that at times images viewed on our website and social media channels have been taken with a zoom lens. Our interactions with marine mammals adhere to all regulations set in place, with these being outlined during our tours.

What happens if the sea and weather conditions are not suitable?

Whale Watch tours are always dependent on sea conditions. Whale Watch staff constantly monitor the weather and respond professionally to any changes. This may mean a tour is cancelled or safety restrictions placed on children or passengers with medical problems. Passenger comfort and safety is always our priority. Passengers travelling to join us on the day of their tour are strongly advised to telephone the FREEPHONE number 0800 655 121 for a sea conditions update.

If my tour is cancelled, will I be transferred to the next one?

No. When a tour is cancelled, we will do our best to accommodate you on another one. However, you need to request this.

How long is the tour?

The actual time on the water is up to 2.5 hours. Including check-in time, safety briefing and bus transfers you should allow 3.5 hours in total.

What should I wear on my whale watch tour?

Dress warmly and wear flat shoes. If you wish to spend time on the outside decks of our vessels you may need light waterproof clothing depending on the sea conditions.

What if I suffer from motion-sickness?

If you are susceptible to motion-sickness Whale Watch offer Aqua Straps for hire or purchase. Whale Watch also sells natural active motion-sickness tablets but we are not permitted to sell medicated options which can be purchased at the local pharmacy located in the town centre. All our Whale Watch tours are graded with a seasickness warning announced over our PA system prior to tour departure.

Can I buy batteries or memory cards aboard the whale watch vessels?

No. So please stock up on these items at the Whale Watch Gift Shop before departure.

Do Whale Watch sell food and drinks aboard whale watch vessels?

No. Delicious hot food, fresh coffee and a selection of cold drinks are available to purchase before or after your tour at Flukes Cafe adjacent to the Whale Watch reservations office.

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