A Look Back Over July 2016

Did you know that winter time in Kaikoura is not only incredibly beautiful but also the best time of the year to come whale watching?


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Winter time in Kaikoura

When the conditions allowed we had some amazing tours during July with five of our winter semi-resident sperm whales being sighted feeding in the Kaikoura Canyon. Tiaki, Holy Moly, Slice, Tutu and Manu. Each of these whales being distinguished by the different shaped dorsal fins, tail shapes, marks and scars they have.

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It is around this time of the year that we are able to view other species of whales passing through on their annual migration – mainly the humpback whales. This season was no exception with many humpback whale sightings which is fantastic:


2nd July – x4 Humpbacks

3rd July – x6 Humpback

4th July – x1 Humpback

6th July – x1 Humpback

7th July – x3 Humpbacks

8th July – x3 Humpbacks

9th July – 1 Humpback

11th July – x2 Humpbacks

12th July – x2 Humpbacks

13th July – x1 Humpback & x15 Orca

16th July – x4 Humpbacks

17th July – x3 Humpbacks

19th July – x12 Orca

20th July – x2 Humpbacks

21st July – x2 Humpbacks

22nd July – x3 Humpbacks

26th July - x1 Humpback

27th July – x3 Humpbacks

28th July – x2 Humpbacks

30th July – x2 Humpbacks & x1 Blue whale

0930 Tour 13 Nov 14 Roger

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Wow that is an incredible 46 individual sightings of a humpback whale passing through Kaikoura during July. Fantastic news and so great to see the numbers passing through on the increase (as a side note we have also have 5 more sightings over the first couple of days in August).


The humpback whale is a baleen whale meaning that it doesn’t have teeth but instead has baleen plates running down from the upper jaw that act like a sieve, filtering out the photo & zoo plankton (krill) and nutrients from the water. Baleen being a substance similar to our finger nails and hair.  So, for being one of the largest creatures in the ocean they feast upon one of the smallest creatures in the ocean. Such amazing creatures.


When time allowed on our tours we were also able to view dusky dolphins, hectors dolphins, NZ fur seals and many different species of marine birds. This is the natural environment for such a wide range of marine life which makes whale watching so fun, never knowing from one day to the next what we are going to see when we head out on one of our tours.

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Dusky Dolphins


As mentioned we were able to view many different species of marine birds such as: wandering albatross, royal albatross, shy mollymawk, northern giant petrel, cape petrel, bullers shearwater and also a white morph which is a very rare species of bird to see off our coastline.

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As I write this there is a new layer of snow peeking out from under low cloud over the Kaikoura Ranges, winter has well and truly made itself known today.

Until next month, keep warm



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.