Weekly Update - 31st July 2017

This week we’ve had some beautiful frosty days in Kaikōura, with the sun making a welcomed appearance. Snow continues to coat the Kaikōura Ranges making for a spectacular sight when the morning sun hits its peaks.

During the week our whale watch trips got to see some of the local Sperm Whales in our waters, including Tiaki, Tutu, Aotearoa as well as Matimati hanging out with a pod of three new Sperm Whales to the region. The NZ Fur Seals and Dusky Dolphins sighted this week are always a crowd pleaser with their fun and inquisitive nature around us and our vessel. It’s not uncommon for the Duskies to follow us while we’re cruising along in pursuit of the Sperm Whale, and we are continually amazed at how high they can propel themselves out of the water! It’s quite a show to see the pods jumping in coordination with each other.

Whale tail, Kaikoura NZ

Photo Cred: Tehlia Richardson

No Humpback Whales were sighted this week but they are still on their annual migration and pass through Kaikōura up until late August so fingers crossed our tours encounter some more before they disappear to the warmer waters of Tonga for their mating and breeding season.

The Kaikōura Trench not only provides an abundance of food for the Sperm Whales, but also for seabirds, making Kaikōura one of New Zealand’s albatross hotspots. This week on our tours we were able to see Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Buller Mollymawk, Shy Mollymawk and the Black Browned Mollymawk.

Albatross skimming low over the water

Kaikōura’s annual 48 Hours in Kaikoura photography competition is on this weekend, so if you’re booked in for our weekend tours then don’t forget to bring your camera to capture Kaikōura’s marine life in their natural habitat. This year’s competition will be made even more interesting with the new seascapes and landscapes that have emerged since the November 7.8 magnitude earthquake, giving you the chance to get snap happy with some of the newest land in our beautiful country.

Last week the government announced $231 million in additional funding to improve State Highway 1 in the Kaikōura region. This will increase safety, resilience, reliability, access and amenity and provide a higher level of service on the road for people living in the area and visitors to the region.

Recommended walking and cycling options on SH1 between Christchurch and Clarence

Image Sourced: NZTA. Concept of the recommended options for the ‘walking and cycling’ upgrades.

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. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

As we enter into the cooler winter months it is a good reminder to take extra care on the roads and to check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling.

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.

Modified trailer and public jetty used to launch whale watch vessel, Tohora

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

IntercityHasslefree 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.

Work-in-progress of railways between Christchurch and Picton

Image Sourced: NZTA

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

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?!

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

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.

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.