A Look Back Over December 2015

Welcome to the first update of 2016… The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura hopes you all had a wonderful Christmas / New Years with your family and friends. We have been really blessed with lots of sunshine and fantastic tours over the holiday season.

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Pohutakawa - NZ Christmas Tree

December was a very busy month for us with it being the beginning of our summer period. We had many successful trips along with fantastic sightings and happy passengers.


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Incredible photo captured by one of our guests in December - Jimmy De Taeye

We had 5 semi-resident sperm whales sighted at various times throughout December along with other individuals that came and went as they pleased. Two of the semi-residents were Tutu (short for Tutumairekurai which translates to Special Ocean Dweller which is the Maori name given to the Hectors Dolphin. Tutu's dorsal fin is shaped a bit like that of a Hectors Dolphin - hence the name Tutu) and MatiMati (also known as Fingers). The other 3 semi-residents were Tiaki, Aoraki and Jonah. All of these sperm whales have been visiting Kaikoura off and on for many years now and have become good friends of ours.

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Semi-resident sperm whale Jonah

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There he blows - semi-resident sperm whale Tutu

From time to time we also get to see other species of marine life pass through the area due to Kaikoura being on the main migratory path for many species of whales and dolphins, passengers who travelled on the following dates were in for a treat with being able to sight not only sperm whales but also:

03 Dec – Orca x3

10 Dec – Orca x12

18 Dec – Orca x4

22 Dec – Orca x4

23 Dec – Southern Right Whale Dolphins x6

26 Dec – Orca x4

31 Dec – Orca x5

31 Dec – Beaked Whales x2



Male Orca sighted off the Kaikoura coast during December

When time and opportunity allows we can also regularly see dusky dolphins, hectors dolphins, NZ fur seals, and there was even a few blue penguins and a sunfish sighted offshore as the water has started to warm up.

There have been regular sightings of the Hectors Dolphins out the front of our office along with pods of between 100 – 500 dusky dolphins on the southern side of the peninsula.

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Dusky dolphins

We are blessed with an abundance of marine birds off the coastline also, some examples of bird species we sighted include: Hutton Shearwater’s, Wandering Albatross, Buller’s Shearwater, Fairy Prions, Giant Northern Petrel, Shy Mollymawk to name a few.

Please remember to book well in advance at this time of the year as our tours are in high demand.

Here is to an amazing 2016 with plenty of great whale (and other marine life) sightings. We look forward to having you come visit with us.

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Kaikoura is beautiful

Kaikōura’s Summer weather has been a treat this past week, making for some epic sea conditions and amazing clear sightings of marine life out on the water.

It seems like Tiaki and Tutu, two of our favourite whales to see out in the Canyon, have been getting reacquainted since they’ve reunited, as this marks the second week in a row that we’ve seen catching a breather up on the surface and diving down to feed together. Looks like they missed each other as much as we missed them whilst they were away!

Other semi-residential Sperm Whales we saw this week included Mati Mati and Aoraki as well as many transient Sperm Whales who are constantly drawn to Kaikōura due to the abundance of food on offer. As with the majority of our tours, we sighted NZ Fur Seals, Hectors Dolphins, Dusky Dolphins and a variety of seabirds including the Great Wandering Albatross.

Who else is planning to kick start their Summer with a whale watching tour? Bring your family and friends along too and make it an adventure! Buy a whale watching gift voucher or, better yet, check out our Marine Combo deal! Get above, on and below the water with a scenic flight, whale watching boat trip and swim with the dolphins! The ultimate gift this Christmas and one of the best ways to make some lasting Summer memories.

Don’t forget, State Highway 1 North is re-opening this Friday afternoon. And yes, the world famous Nins Bin caravan will be ready to welcome you back! So if you’re making your way along the Coast, stop to enjoy the warm weather, soak up the scenes and take in this incredible new landscape that Kaikōura is quickly becoming known for. They’ll be serving freshly caught crayfish and all that other good stuff including mussels, whitebait and the classic Kiwi fish n’ chips right on the beach – does it get any better?!


There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. The full rebuild of the highway will continue in 2018. 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.