Who We Are

Whale Watch is a multiple national and international award winning New Zealand nature-based Tourism Company owned and operated by the indigenous Ngāti Kuri people of Kaikōura, a Māori sub-tribe of the South Island's larger Ngāi Tahu Tribe.

Bill Solomon, Ngāti Kuri leader

Whale Watch was formed in 1987 at a time when Māori were casualties of Kaikōura’s declining economy. At this time of difficulty, Ngāti Kuri leaders like (The late) Bill Solomon believed the local Sperm Whales held the answer to the unemployment problems of the Māori community. They knew their ancestor Paikea had journeyed to a new life in New Zealand on the back of the whale Tohorā. It seemed appropriate for Paikea's descendants to again ride on the back of the whale to a new life and prosperity.

And so it proved to be.

The Ngāti Kuri founders of Whale Watch mortgaged their houses to secure a loan to start the business. In the early days passengers travelled aboard a 6.7 metre inflatable vessel carrying 8 passengers at a time. In the first year of operation 3,000 passengers were carried. In time, the inflatable was replaced by a larger vessel with an upper viewing deck until today the Whale Watch fleet numbers four modern catamarans specially designed for whale watching, each holding 48 passengers. Now up to 100,000 passengers can be carried each year. The expansion of the Whale Watch fleet required the building of an entire marina in South Bay. It is from here that all whale watching tours now depart.

Due to the phenomenal success of Whale Watch, Kaikōura is now one of New Zealand's leading eco-tourism destinations offering a diverse range of exciting activities and experiences. The company has stimulated investment in new accommodation, restaurants and an impressive array of cafes and galleries filled with the work of local artists.

Paikea and Tohorā still form the symbolic centre of Whale Watch. They represent the spiritual bond between the human world and the natural world and speak of the possibilities that reveal themselves when the world of nature is revered rather than exploited.

New Zealand is now at Alert Level 1. We are looking forward to welcoming back our Aussie friends soon. For all our guests we ask that you maintain good hygiene by making use of hand sanitiser placed around our facilities. If you are experiencing any flu like symptoms, please stay at home. Contact us if you have any questions. Be safe and be kind.

20% DISCOUNT

Discount valid for adult fares only
Valid for travel between 1st February - 16th April 2021 
Discount automatically applied for direct website bookings only
Discount not applicable to the Captain's Cabin

KIDS GO FREE

Kids travel free with every fare paying adult, discount automatically applied online.
Valid for travel between 17th April - 4th May 2021 
Discount automatically applied for direct website bookings only

Book Now or Contact Us if you have any questions. 

Tours are available every day except Wednesdays (7 days a week during the School Holidays) & also Christmas Day.