Weekly Update - 22nd January 2018

Kaikōura’s waters have been bursting with life this week, and our tours have been successful in seeing a variety of whale and dolphin species. It seems January is a great time to come whale watching if you’re wanting the chance to see more than just Sperm whales whilst out on the water.

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Sperm whale (Credit: Allan Cronin)

Semi-residential Sperm whales encountered this week included Manu, Tiaki and Aoraki. It seems as though the Summer sun is wearing Aoraki out, either that or he’s been putting in some serious diving efforts in the hunt for his dinner lately, as a lot of the times we spotted him this week he was snoozing. This is certainly no fun when you’re out there wanting to capture a snap of his amazing tale, but there’s something so peaceful about floating on the water with a giant sound asleep next to you. One tour approached him as he was sleeping horizontal on the surface, however once getting closer, he quickly decided to change his sleeping arrangements to vertical with just his head bobbing out of the water – absolutely incredible to see!

Sperm whale sleeping vertically in Kaikoura

Sperm whale sleeping vertically (Credit: Jimmy Wright)

A juvenile Humpback has been hanging around Kaikōura this week. We saw him Thursday through to Saturday and we are seriously loving every encounter with him! Humpbacks are very inquisitive mammals, meaning that they make for great whale watching and this guy was no exception.

Did you see our Facebook post last Friday? There was a family pod of 8 Orca cruising around and our Sea Crew captured some brilliant photos!

Family pod of 8 Orca in Kaikoira

Orca Pod (Credit: Tehlia Richardson)

Amongst the family pod were a couple of young calves swimming between the larger fully grown Orca.  Orca are known to travel in tight knit pods of between 6 – 20 individuals, and these pods are usually formed for life. We also saw a pod of 5 Orca the day before on Thursday. January has proven to be a busy time of year for Orca to come visiting Kaikōura, and we can’t get enough!


Fin and Blue whales are back for another week of feeding in the Hikurangi Trench, we spotted them both on Sunday’s tours and had some great up-close encounters with them. The Blue whale and the Fin whale are two of the largest animals to exist in the animal kingdom. To have them sharing the Kaikōura Canyon at the same time is truly special. As we said last week, commercial whaling in the 1900’s severely impacted the Fin whale, meaning encounters with this species are very rare and precious. We hope to see many more Fin whales throughout 2018.

We spotted three species of dolphins over the duration of the week, including the very rare Hector’s dolphins, the acrobatic and playful Dusky dolphins and the highly social Common dolphins. 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 they Duskies are particularly active this time of year which is extraordinary to watch.

Jumping Dusky on whale watch tour

Jumping Dusky (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.