A Look Back Over February 2016

February was a great month in Kaikōura, we had fantastic summer weather, amazing sightings of semi-resident sperm whales along with various visiting cetacean. It was also very busy due to Chinese New Year with many Chinese visitors coming to visit us.

Summer evenings are the best

Summer evenings are the best

 

We had six regulars feeding close inshore this month: Tutu, Tiaki, Manu, Saddleback, Koru and MatiMati. Tutu, Manu, Saddleback and Tiaki have been visiting Kaikoura during our summer months for many years now with Koru and MatiMati becoming regulars over the last few years. We can tell individual sperm whales apart by different markings, scars and shapes of their tails. Tutu has quite a distinctive tail which droops down on either end – whereas Tiaki’s tail has an indentation on the inner section of his flukes. 

Tail time

Tail time

Throughout summer we can at times also see many other species of whales & dolphins paying a visit to Kaikoura:

1 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

2 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

2 Feb – Common Dolphins x20

3 Feb – Orca x12

3 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

4 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

5 Feb – Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins x50

6 Feb – Humpback Whale x1

7 Feb – Orca x8

10 Feb – Orca x6

14 Feb – Common Dolphins x100

16 Feb – Orca x6

20 Feb – Orca x6

20 Feb – Common Dolphins x100

27 Feb – Orca x6

28 Feb – Orca x6

The Pilot Whales & Bottlenose Dolphins that were visiting with us for part of January and February seemed to stop off here for a time to give birth to same calves. One of our crew managed to get some great pics of these calves who still had their birth rings being just a few days old. So special.

 

New born Pilot Whale

New born Pilot Whale

Mother and calf - Bottlenose Dolphin

Mother and calf - Bottlenose Dolphin

With the water temperature being warmer during February we were able to see at times dark red patches in the water which was krill. Krill is a small crustacean that baleen whales fed on – Humpback, Blue, and Southern Right to name a few. It is always a good sign to us when we see krill that the food chain is healthy.

 

Krill Side View

Krill

As always when times allows we move further inshore and do our best to view NZ fur seals resting up on the rocks along the Kaikoura Coastline. These seals although they look like they are being lazy are actually exhausted and building up strength before heading back out to sea for another 3-4 days feeding before coming back in to rest up again before their next feeding trip out to sea.

There were plenty of marine birds species also sighted this month, such as – wandering albatross, royal albatross, shy mollymawks, cape petrels, giant northern petrels, Hutton’s shearwaters, blue penguins, terns, gulls and shags.

 

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Largest bird in flight - Wandering Albatross

As you can see Kaikoura is a very special place, we are blessed with the abundance of marine life that not only call Kaikoura home but also pass by our coastline at different times of the year.

We have a great app that is free to download and full of great information about the marine life we can see out on our tours, well worth checking out. 

Until next month,

Lisa

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?!

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

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.

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. 

ORGANISED TRANSPORT OPTIONS FROM CHRISTCHURCH

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.