Conservation Policy

Whale Watch is committed to providing a quality whale watching experience while carefully managing the use of a rare natural resource. We are visitors to the world of the whales and respect it as such at all times.

Diving sperm whale tail, Manu, Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Sustainable Tourism

As a Māori-owned company, Whale Watch cherishes the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world. It is a philosophy that embraces people, the land, the sea and all living things as one. Perhaps this is why so many of our visitors tell us our tours provide them with a spiritual experience.

Since arriving in the Kaikōura area in 850AD, Ngāi Tahu have formed a sustainable relationship with Kaikōura's entire ecosystem including the marine ecosystem that maintains the whales in their natural environment. Nothing within that sustainable philosophy will allow Ngāi Tahu to harm this ecosystem that keeps the whales close to Kaikōura. For dozens of generations over many centuries this view of life has been fundamental to our ancestors. There must always be enough - more than enough - to sustain life in its entire spiritual and physical sense. Thus for Ngāi Tahu and Whale Watch, the word 'sustainable' has both a physical and spiritual meaning. It goes to the heart and soul of being Māori. It is a core principle of the whale watching experience we share with our visitors. Ngāi Tahu have lived with whales for over 1000 years. We intend to live with them for another 1000 years.

All Whale Watch vessels are specially designed for whale watching. Our modern catamarans are powered by inboard diesel engines and equipped with Hamilton propulsion units that minimise underwater noise. All on-board toilets are self-contained and never allowed to pollute the sea. Detailed records are kept for each trip, covering personalised identification of every whale seen, its location and any unusual whale behaviour. This information is part of the on-going contribution to scientific research by Whale Watch. Some Sperm Whales that visit Kaikōura regularly appear to recognise and trust the Whale Watch boats and do not mind being approached. New whales, though, prefer the boats to keep further away. Whale Watch skippers recognise individual whales and adjust operations to suit each whale.

Vessels used for whale watch tours at Whale Watch Kaikoura.

Whale Watch is proud of their many awards that recognise their commitment to the preservation of the environment. Whale Watch Chairman Wally Stone says, 

"Whale Watch isn't about to do anything which will adversely affect the whales that provide year-round income - or drive them from the coast. We have the most to lose, so we won't be doing anything to jeopardise the whales in our waters." 

Whale Watch is a staunch ally of the marine conservation movement. Wally Stone points to the support Whale Watch gives to the ongoing international fight to protect whales from a renewal of commercial killing and the resumption of trade in whale products. Japan and Norway continue to vigorously lobby members of the International Whaling Commission to re-introduce commercial whaling. Both nations still take hundreds of whales each year for "scientific purposes" when in fact the whale meat ends up in fish markets. Wally Stone says the Whale Watch '"experience" sends a powerful message to those who wish to slaughter whales. 

"We see our business as reinforcing the anti-industrial whaling message. This in turn reinforces whale preservation, the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary and the whale protection stances adopted by many members of the International Whaling Commission."

It remains a sad fact that the very same whales seen aboard Whale Watch tours may be killed by commercial whalers once outside New Zealand waters.

It can be heard in the song of the bird,
It can be felt in the breath of each new day,
It lives in the spirit of Mother Earth;
It lives in our hearts and it will be witnessed
Through the eyes of our children

Conservation Challenges

Did you know that eventually much of the pollution we create on land makes its way into the ocean? Even if we live a long way from the ocean our actions, good and bad can have an effect on every living creature in the sea, including the whales! Please check out Challenge 1 and Challenge 2.

Packing Strap found on one of our tours

Packing strap pulled out of the ocean by Whale Watch Sea Crew

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.