About the location, Kaikōura

Few places on Earth possess the magic of Kaikōura. Many who visit leave transformed. It is a special part of New Zealand, imbued with powerful natural energy. A place where tectonic plates collide, towering peaks fall to the sea and ocean currents converge.

Such rare combinations lure an abundance of marine wildlife, the most famous being the Giant Sperm Whale. It was a whale that led the Māori ancestor Paikea to New Zealand many centuries ago. His descendants live in Kaikōura today. Fittingly, the whale continues to guide the people of Kaikōura and the visitors they host.

Kaikōura is one of New Zealand's leading eco-tourism destinations offering a variety of exciting activities and experiences. Despite the recent rise in tourist numbers, the town retains much of its historical charm. Many new motels, cafes and restaurants can be found in beautifully restored old buildings. Fresh local seafood is always on the menu. The retention of the town's distinctive character has made Kaikōura extremely attractive to artists. Their work, inspired by the remarkable landscape and wildlife, can be seen all over town.

Kaikōura is committed to protecting its unique environment and is the first destination in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve Earth Check Platinum Accreditation recognising the communities’ activities to reduce its environmental impact.

Kaikōura Peninsula

Kaikōura marine management area

The new Kaikōura Marine Management Area developed to conserve Kaikōura’s whales, dolphins, seals, albatrosses, rock lobster, shellfish and finfish was formally opened by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith on the 6th August 2014.

Great news for the beautiful marine life that we have off the Kaikōura Coastline providing us with New Zealands first Whale and Seal Sanctuaries and deepest Marine Reserve.

For more information about the new whale sanctuary, fur seal sanctuary and marine reserve in Kaikōura please click on the following: Hikurangi Marine Reserve.

The chart below highlights the new sanctuaries and marine reserve areas in Kaikōura. For more detailed information on these areas please read the following Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura - Kaikoura Marine Management Area (pdf).

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.