Sea Birds of Kaikōura

While our tours mainly focus on viewing sperm whales – year round residents off the Kaikōura coastline, we also can view throughout our tours a diverse array of seabirds. Sightings ranging from albatross, petrels, shearwaters, terns and gulls. Kaikōura is home to more seabird species in a small area to anywhere else in New Zealand. Amazing!

One of the reasons for such a large number of different types of seabirds in Kaikōura is the deep underwater trench that runs so close inshore – the Kaikōura Canyon. Upwellings of cold nutrient rich water move along the base of the trench towards the coast, it then begins to rise, bringing with it nutrients from the deep ocean which then encourages a food chain which is constantly being replenished and enables us to view whales, dolphins, seals and marine birds on our tours.

Here are some images taken recently by one of our crew (Jaime Brown) of seabirds during one of our tours. Magnificent creatures that are truly magical to watch whether it be catching the updraft of wind off the sea swell, feasting of pieces of squid or fish left behind on the surface or even just at rest. 

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Northern Giant Petrel


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Northern Giant Petrel


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Wandering albatross has such a huge wing span


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Bullers Shearwaters alongside a sperm whale


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Westland Petrel taking off

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.