Whale Watching in September 2017

September is a beautiful time of the year to visit Kaikōura. With the Spring blossoms, long days (courtesy of daylight savings) and the warm weather rolling in for Summer, it’s the perfect time to stop by before all the tourists turn up over the New Year. If you’re visiting Kaikōura with whale watching in mind, then we’ve also had some great sightings!

Kaikoura in September

Throughout September we saw semi-resident Sperm Whales Aoraki and Holy Moly. We’ve been seeing these guys for 20+ years on our tours off the Kaikōura Coast so our experience Sea Crew are able to recognise them as soon as we see them on the surface due to their distinct markings. Many transient Sperm Whales, who we were unable to identify, also were sighted on this month’s tours and were welcome visitors to our region.

Sperm Whale diving in New Zealand

Sperm Whale in Kaikoura

September is the time of the year that the Sperm Whales move further off-shore to seek food in the Kaikōura Canyon. This means longer boat rides for us but more scenery for our passengers! There’s something so calming about being out in the ocean, and the anticipation of a Sperm Whale popping up at any moment is truly exhilarating!

Sperm Whale diving in New Zealand

Kaikōura is a feeding ground for whales with a thriving eco-system with plentiful nutrients on offer. So it’s no wonder we had quite a few other visitors during September, making for some extra special tours:

5th September          2X Humpback Whale

10th September        Beaked Whales

13th September        1X Beaked Whale

13th September        2X Humpback Whale

24th September        1X Humpback Whale

26th September        1X Humpback Whale

September tends to be the last month that we see the Humpback Whales on our tours, as their Great Annual Migration draws to an end. One of our most exciting encounters this month included the Humpback Whales, as two of them made their way extremely close to shore on the Northern side of Kaikōura’s Peninsula right next to Point Kean Seal Colony! Our whale watching tours usually find whales on the Southern side of the Peninsula in the Hikurangi Trench, so our venture North was a welcome change for our Sea Crew and provided some great photo opportunities for our passengers with the Peninsula making for a stunning background. These Humpbacks were very friendly and playful whilst around us, providing some great viewing opportunities.

Humpback Whale 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. The Duskies, whose pod sizes can be as large as a thousand dolphins in Kaikōura, breeding season is coming up! We’re excited to see the calves in tow with their mother’s this Summer.

Mother and Calf Dusky Dolphin in Kaikoura, New Zealand

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

We know that we’ve noted the Hutton Shearwater/Kaikōura tītī (Puffinus huttoni) in our sightings, but we haven’t mentioned just how many we have seen! We’ve seen rafts of Hutton’s feeding in the bay as Spring marks the return of our Titi from overwintering in Australian waters.

Hutton Shearwater in Kaikoura

An endangered species, the Hutton Shearwater is the only seabird globally to breed in an alpine environment, with the only breeding colonies remaining in the Seaward Kaikōura Ranges. Help support the Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust by purchasing some merchandise and making a donation.

Donate to the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust

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

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura


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.


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 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.