A Look Back Over October 2017

Throughout October we saw semi-resident Sperm Whale Holy Moly along with plenty of transient male Sperm Whales soaking up the abundance of food on offer in the Kaikōura Canyon. Some of these transient whales were absolutely huge! Well on the larger side of the size spectrum.

Whale tail in Kaikoura, New Zealand

 Male Sperm Whales, the most common whale we see on our tours, are wanderers and in some cases may end up traveling from ocean to ocean throughout their 70 year lifespan. September through to October is the time of year that our semi-residential Sperm Whales move further off-shore to seek food in the Kaikōura Canyon. It’s unknown exactly why they change their eating habits, but some believe it’s because the large transient bull Sperm Whales have left their feeding grounds in the outer Kaikōura Canyon and so it’s their opportunity to get in on all the good food out there in the deep.

Whale tail in Kaikoura, New Zealand

This means longer boat rides for us but more scenery for our passengers! There’s something so calming about being out in the ocean, and the anticipation of a Sperm Whale popping up at any moment is truly exhilarating! As we type, Sperm Whales have been sighted 10 miles off shore, meaning that they’re starting come back closer to land.

Sperm whale surfacing in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikōura is a feeding ground for whales with a thriving eco-system with plentiful nutrients on offer. So it’s no wonder we had quite a few other visitors during October, making for some extra special tours:

14th October             7X Southern Bottlenose Beaked Whale

19th October             1X Humpback Whale

20th October             1X Humpback Whale

21st October             2X Humpback Whale

22nd October            2X Humpback Whale

24th October             1X Humpback Whale

We know last month we said September tends to be the end of our sightings of Humpback Whales on our tours, as their Great Annual Migration draws to a close, but we obviously lied as we have seen plenty of Humpbacks during October! One thing we love about encountering whales in the wild is that no tour is the same, no day is the same and no month is the same! Mother Nature is very unpredictable, so seeing Humpbacks right up until the end of this months was a pleasant surprise.

Humpback whale jumping out from the water in Kaikoura

The Southern Bottlenose Whale is one of the least well-studied species in the family Ziphiidae. These guys hang out in small groups of 1 – 10 members, known to avoid boats by breaching away, which is why this was such a special encounter (and why our Sea Crew struggled to capture clear of them)! They are a deep diving species who feed on squid, like our mate the Giant Sperm Whale, so no wonder they’ve ventured into one of the most nutrient rich eco-systems on the planet.

As with all our tours, when time allows we take time to view other species of marine life that live off the Kaikōura Coast such as Dusky Dolphins, Hectors Dolphins, NZ Fur Seals and the many marine bird species.

Mother and Calf Hectors Dolphin in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Bird species sighted during September included; Royal Albatross, Bullers Mollymawk, Shy Mollymawk, Grey Headed Mollymawk,Salvins Mollymawk, Cape Petrel, Giant Northern Petrel,Westland Petrel,Hutton Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater,Fairy Prion, White Fronted Tern, Black Back Gull, Black Shagand the Spotted Shag.

We’ll check in with you at the end of November for another marine mammal update.

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.