A Look Back Over August 2017

See you next year Winter! We’re taking a look back on the last month of Winter here in New Zealand for 2017, and catching you up on some of our recent sightings during August.

Winter treated us well here in Kaikōura. It’s been another month in paradise with beautiful sunsets and sunrises complimenting the snowy Kaikōura Ranges and making for some epic days on the water full of sunshine and refreshingly crisp air.

Kaikoura , New Zealand in winter

Semi-resident Sperm Whales that we were able to view throughout August included Tutu,Slice, Holy Moly, Tiaki,Matimati and Aoraki. We’ve been seeing these guys for 20+ years on our tours off the Kaikōura Coast, and it’s great to still be able to see them hanging out in the Hikurangi Trench after all this time. Many transient Sperm Whales, who we haven’t seen before, also were sighted on this month’s tours and were welcome visitors to our region.

Sperm Whale in Kaikoura

Sperm Whales diving off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand

We had quite a few other visitors during August, making for some extra special tours:

2nd August          2X Humpback Whale

2nd August          1X Blue Whale

3rd August           1X Humpback Whale

9th August           2X Humpback Whale

12th August         2X Humpback Whale

15th August         1X Humpback Whale

24th August         4X Orca

Orca in Kaikoura with Whale Watch Kaikoura

In total, we saw eight Humpback Whales this month, much lower than last month which is to be expected due to their Great Annual Migration from Antarctica to the Pacific Islands drawing to an end. We’re currently in the transition months from viewing these whales to having Orca, the largest of the dolphin family, visit our shores. We can’t decide what’s better – the Winter season of viewing the most acrobatic whale species in the world or the Summer season that brings with it the wolves of the sea? You decide! Either way, any time of the year is a good time for whale watching, especially with our 95% success rate and Sperm Whales being in our region all year round.

One of our most exciting encounters this month was hitting the whale trifecta! On a single tour we saw three species of whale – Sperm, Humpback and Blue! This is a very rare occurrence for us and one not often achieved, making for a memorable trip for both our passengers as well as our sea crew.

Humpback Whale breaching in Kaikoura, New Zealand

As with all our tours, when time allows we take time to view other species of marine life that live off the Kaikōura coast such as Dusky Dolphins, Hectors Dolphins, NZ Fur Seals and the many marine bird species.

Dusky Dolphins in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Hectors Dolphins spotted on a Whale Watch Kaikoura tour

Bird species sighted during August included; Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross,Bullers Mollymawk,Shy Mollymawk,Grey Headed Mollymawk,Black Browed Mollymawk,Cape Petrel, Giant Northern Petrel,Westland Petrel,Grey Faced Petrel, Hutton Shearwater,Sooty Shearwater,Bullers Shearwater,Fairy Prion, White Fronted Tern,Black Back Gull Black Shag, Spotted Shag and the Australasian Gannet.

Seabirds sighted during  a whale watch tour in Kaikoura NZ

Our whale watching vessel, Tohora, has been the only vessel operating this month while our other three are waiting patiently up in Wellington for our marina to be repaired and upgraded. Each morning we unload Tohora from our modified trailer over at South Bay and load her back up in the evening in time with high tide.

Unloading Tohora whale watch vessel from our trailer

As the snow-capped mountains melt and the trees turn to bloom, we’re extremely excited to see what our Spring tours have in store for us! Longer and brighter days are on their way, and gearing up to be a great few months ahead for us.

We’ll check in with you at the end of September for another marine mammal sightings update.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura

This week Kaikōura really lived up to its reputation of being a marine mecca, with a wide variety of marine mammals sighted in abundance on our tours! We saw a lot of large transient Sperm Whales visiting our Coast to indulge in the nutrient rich waters of the Hikurangi Trench, as well as Spotty Tail! A semi-residential Sperm Whale who we’ve been seeing for a while now.

We’ve also seen a great number of Pilot Whales over the week, on Tuesday we saw 50+ and then on Thursday we saw 150+! A couple of stray Humpback Whales have also been hanging around Kaikōura, which we don’t usually get to see in November, but we’re guessing they’re just enjoying the Kaikōura Canyon too much to leave!

Dolphin varieties we saw on our tours included the usual suspects, the acrobatic Duskies and endangered Hectors, and this week we saw a pod of 20+ Bottlenose. As well as seeing the smallest of the dolphin species, the Hector, we also spotted the largest – the Orca. That makes two weeks in a row of Orca sighting!

On Tuesday, the 14th of November which marked exactly 1 year on from when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck which raised our coastline and left our boats on dry land, we celebrated our official marina opening. Thank you to everyone’s support and well wishes over the past year, each word of encouragement has been truly appreciated.


There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. INLAND ROUTE 70 IS OPEN 24/7.


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. 


Hasslefree ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch. Kiwi Experience now have the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers. Intercity Bus also provides a bus service between Christchurch and Kaikoura return.

Progress on the work being done on the roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on the dedicated Kaikoura Earthquake Response page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Fridays. Work is also underway on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.