Weekly Update - 12th February 2018

2018 just keeps getting better and better for us out in the Canyon, with some amazing sailing conditions providing some beautiful whale watching encounters for our guests. We saw an abundance of transient Sperm whales feeding in the Hikurangi Trench this week, along with two local Sperm whales Mohio and Aoraki.

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‘Orca Monday’ is starting to become a bit of thing for us this year, with Orca seeming to turn up at the start of each week and we’re certainly not complaining – what a way to kick-start off each week of whale watching! It’s hard to be sad that the weekends over and your back at work when you see a pod of Orca, especially when there are babies in tow! We saw a family pod of five on Monday, males, females and a juvenile. Fingers crossed there’s a pod out in the Canyon today!

Orca (Credit: Heleen Middel)

Whilst waiting for a Sperm whale to come up to the surface after a deep feeding session, three Gray’s Beaked whales decided to pay us a visit. Found living in the cool deep waters of the southern hemisphere, as the name suggests, this whale is named partially because of its beak shaped mouth which is grey and then becomes white with age. There is little known of this species as they are rarely observed in the wild. Most of what is known of them is gathered from mass stranding’s, leading researchers to believe that these whales form large pods and social groups. Once fully matured, you can see triangular shaped teeth exposed on the male’s lower jaw. An unbelievable sideshow in the lead up to the main event, the Giant Sperm whale!

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Gray's Beaked whale (Credit: Heleen Middel)

All year long we’ve been seeing a juvenile Humpback whale on our tours. We’re not too sure is its been the same one all along but this week he provided some particularly spectacular whale watching scenes when he decided to use our vessel as a sort of shield to trap fish and make easy prey. This is called surface feeding, where a Humpback whale gapes open its mouth and explodes to the surface through a school of fish, coming up with both food and water. The water is then filtered out using its baleen system. On a separate occasion he spent time close inshore, breaching and tail slapping his way up the coastline! Have you ever seen a whale propel its entire body out of water? Truly spectacular!

Humpback whale surfacing feeding (Credit: Heleen Middel)

We spotted three species of dolphins over the duration of the week, including the very rare Hector’s dolphins, the energetic and playful Dusky dolphins and the highly social Common dolphins who tend to visit Kaikoura during our Summer period. When we have spare time in between whales diving, it’s great to be able to show our passengers dolphins. Pods in Kaikōura number in the hundreds, and the Duskies are particularly active this time of year which is epic to watch.

If you’re yet to explore the Kaikōura Canyon and get up close to its diverse marine life that lives beneath the water, then the Kaikoura Marine Combo is a great way to explore. With a ½ hour flight with Wings Over Whales, 3½ hour whale watching experience by boat with Whale Watch Kaikoura and 3½ hour Dusky dolphin encounter with Dolphin Encounter, you’re sure to come out with some amazing photos and memories, as well as a new appreciation for those whom we share the ocean with. 

Have you met Kaha? Our search to name HL50 has finally come to an end. With an overwhelming number of suggestions for his new name, he has been named after his strong and courageous characteristics. Kaha, which means strong in Maōri, is a quality that the Kaikōura community has had to embrace during this trialling time we have found ourselves in post-earthquake. Come visit us in Kaikōura and meet Kaha for yourself.

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Kaha (Credit: Allan Cronin)


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 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.


Inland Road Route 70 between Christchurch (via Waiau) to Kaikōura is OPEN 24/7.

Please drive to the conditions & visit nzta.govt.nz/p2c for more information.