Weekly Update - 11th September 2017

This week has brought with it a fresh dosing of snow on the Kaikōura Ranges. So if you’re making your way to Kaikōura, be sure to rug up and bring your camera to capture some epic snaps of Mt. Fyffe before the last of Winters snow finally wears off.

Out on the water this week we saw Sperm Whales and Humpback Whales on our tours. It looks like they’re still finishing up their Great Annual Migration, fingers crossed we have a few more coming our way before they return to Antarctica for the Summer. When time allowed, we also took time to see Dusky Dolphins and NZ Fur Seals out and about in Kaikōura’s waters.

Sperm Whale diving in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Sperm Whale off the Coast of Kaikoura

Another exciting encounter we had was with Beaked Whales on Sunday’s tour! Beaked Whales comprise of at least 22 species of small whales in the family Ziphiidae. They are one of the more mysterious species of whales due to their long and deep foraging habits meaning they typically inhabit deep, offshore waters off the edge of continental shelves – so not surprising that we have spotted them in the Kaikōura’s Canyon which is a well-known biodiversity hotspot.

This week we had students from Whangara School in the North Island visit us. Whangara is the location and setting of Whale Rider, the successful New Zealand novel and film inspired by the mythic ancestor Paikea who came to New Zealand on the back of the whale Tohora. We were delighted to host them on one of our whale watching tours and show them the Mighty Sperm Whale, the largest of the toothed whales.

Whangara School children watching a Sperm Whale

Term 3 School Holidays are fast approaching, we advise you get a head start planning some fun activities for your kids now as our popular School Holiday Special is back! From the 30th of September to the 15th of October 2017 (inclusive), kids travel with us for free with every full fare paying adult! Consider taking the time to visit Kaikōura and showing your tamariki the spectacular marine life on offer. Reserve your seats here before spaces fill up.

Discounted whale watching tickets

This week kicks of Māori language week here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Check out our recent blog post to learn the names and meanings behind our Māori named semi-residential Sperm Whales – do you know how Tiaki earned his special name?

If you’re in town this Friday, then why not come down and celebrate the first freight train coming into Kaikōura since the November 2016 earthquake with us and Kiwi Rail? Everyone is welcome - meet us at the Whaleway Station from 7:30AM onwards to congratulate the hard working teams over a bite to eat at Flukes Café.  

KiwiRail invitation to welcome first train to arrive in Kaikoura since the 2016 earthquakes

REGULAR, SCHEDULED CLOSURES OF STATE HIGHWAY 1 SOUTH OF KAIKOURA

There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

From Tuesday, 22nd August, drivers will need to watch for 28 metre truck loads moving bridge beams to Kaikōura, via the Lewis Pass and the inland road via Waiau/Mt Lyford. The beams are for a new bridge build as well as smaller bridge sites north of Kaikōura. Some minor delays can be expected due to the length of the load and the slow and winding nature of parts of the route. These truckloads are scheduled to follow this inland route until September.

Photo Courtesy of NCTIR

Progress is continuing to be made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina, with the modified trailer and public jetty now being used for launching our vessel Tohora. This is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. All our berths have now been removed. This is an end of an era but we are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! The use of the modified trailer and public jetty will continue until further notice. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully restored in October 2017. Below is a graphic (indicative only) of what is being restored at the marina.

Kaikoura Marina repair plan

Currently our available tour times are based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised, please bear with us as we continue to work toward being fully operational again. For an update on the tour times available, please contact our Customer Service team directly either by email on res@whalewatch.co.nz, phone +64 3 319 6767 or free phone 0800 655 121 (within NZ) and they will be able to help you with your inquiry.  Please note we are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours available per day. Please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.

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. 

TRANSPORT UPDATE

Hasslefree Tours & Canterbury Leisure Tours have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, as well as Kiwi Experience now having the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers.

Progress on the work being done on roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on this dedicated KAIKOURA EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Friday. Work is also starting to take place on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

This week Kaikōura really lived up to its reputation of being a marine mecca, with a wide variety of marine mammals sighted in abundance on our tours! We saw a lot of large transient Sperm Whales visiting our Coast to indulge in the nutrient rich waters of the Hikurangi Trench, as well as Spotty Tail! A semi-residential Sperm Whale who we’ve been seeing for a while now.

We’ve also seen a great number of Pilot Whales over the week, on Tuesday we saw 50+ and then on Thursday we saw 150+! A couple of stray Humpback Whales have also been hanging around Kaikōura, which we don’t usually get to see in November, but we’re guessing they’re just enjoying the Kaikōura Canyon too much to leave!

Dolphin varieties we saw on our tours included the usual suspects, the acrobatic Duskies and endangered Hectors, and this week we saw a pod of 20+ Bottlenose. As well as seeing the smallest of the dolphin species, the Hector, we also spotted the largest – the Orca. That makes two weeks in a row of Orca sighting!

On Tuesday, the 14th of November which marked exactly 1 year on from when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck which raised our coastline and left our boats on dry land, we celebrated our official marina opening. Thank you to everyone’s support and well wishes over the past year, each word of encouragement has been truly appreciated.

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. 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.