Frequently Asked Questions
Are you operating tours?
Whale Watch tours are available every day (excluding Christmas Day). You can book seats on these tours here.
Please note, there are minimum number requirements for our tours to happen.
How much does a tour cost?
- Adult NZ$150.00
- Child rate NZ$60.00 (3-15yrs inclusive)
- Rates valid to the 30th September 2021
Children under 3yrs are not permitted on the tour. See here for further details on our child policy.
Tour costs can change without notice. Please note:
- No charge applies to any booking changes made
- No booking fee is charged
- No credit card transaction fee is charged
- No refunds will be given in the event of your failure to notify us of your cancellation 48 hours before the check-in time
What are the tour times?
All year: 7.15am, 10.00am, 12.45pm & 3.30pm (November-March)
Tour scheduling is subject to customer demand, please note that check-in times do not indicate when the actual tour departs but when check-in procedures begin. Whale Watch operate tours every day (weather permitting) excluding Christmas Day.
What time should I meet for the tour?
Tour times given are check-in times only. This is the time you need to meet at the Whaleway Station (Whale Watch Office) to collect your boarding pass.
How do I make a reservation?
To make an immediate confirmed booking with payment by credit card, click Book Now. (The name Whale Watch Kaikōura will appear on cardholder statements for bookings made through this website.)
0800 655 121
+ 64 3 319 6767
+ 64 3 319 6545
Please call our 0800 number for a weather update if travelling to Kaikōura on your day of travel with us.
We accept VISA, MASTERCARD and UNION PAY credit cards. WeChat Pay and Alipay payment options are also available both online & at point of sale.
Do I need to book in advance?
Yes. There is a high demand for our tours. We advise you to book well in advance.
Do you take passengers in wheel chairs?
Yes. If the sea conditions are suitable we are able to take wheel chair passengers with us, however there are times when our captains may place a mobility restriction on our tours if they deem sea conditions unsuitable. See here for further details on Wheel Chair Accessibility.
Whale Watch Kaikōura has a Gold Trax Seal of Approval. The Trax Seal of Approval is New Zealand’s benchmark of Adaptive Adventure Travel & Inclusive Tourism. Find other inclusive tourism operators in New Zealand here.
Am I guaranteed to see a whale?
No. However, the chances are very high. Whale Watch have a 95% success rate in finding whales. If your tour does not see a whale we guarantee to refund 80% of your fare.
What will I see?
Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. We typically see 1-2 whales per tour. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikōura often hosts Orca especially during our summer months. Kaikōura is also home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hectors. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwater. If your Whale Watch tour does not see a whale we will refund 80% of your fare.
Please note that during the months of Nov - Mar there is a rest period in place for viewing of the Dusky Dolphins between the hours of 11.30am to 1.30pm. This is mandatory for all vessels and has been put in place by the Department of Conservation, this restricts viewing of dolphins on our tours during these times.
Do Whale Watch Kaikōura have rules & regulations to follow?
Yes. Whale Watch Kaikōura follows the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1978 and Marine Mammal Protection Regulations of 1992. These ensure that the marine mammals of New Zealand are protected and that their conservation is of top priority.
Please note that at times images viewed on our website and social media channels have been taken with a zoom lens. Our interactions with marine mammals adhere to all regulations set in place, with these being outlined during our tours.
What is classified as a whale under New Zealand regulations?
Under the New Zealand Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 a whale means all species commonly known as whales; and includes baleen whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whales, and pilot whales.
What happens if the sea and weather conditions are not suitable?
Whale Watch tours are always dependent on sea conditions. Whale Watch staff constantly monitor the weather and respond professionally to any changes. This may mean a tour is cancelled or safety restrictions placed on children or passengers with medical problems. Passenger comfort and safety is always our priority. Passengers travelling from out of town to join us on the day of their tour are strongly advised to phone ahead for a sea conditions update.
If my tour is cancelled, will I be transferred to the next one?
No. When a tour is cancelled, we will do our best to accommodate you on another one. However, you need to request this.
How long is the tour?
Time spent on the water is just over 2 hours. Including check-in time, safety briefing and bus transfers you should allow 3 hours 15 minutes in total.
What should I wear on my whale watch tour?
Dress warmly and wear flat shoes. If you wish to spend time on the outside decks of our vessels you may need light waterproof clothing depending on the sea conditions.
What if I suffer from motion-sickness?
If you are susceptible to motion-sickness the Whale Watch Gift Store sells natural active motion-sickness tablets as well as Sea Legs (information provided at time of purchase). All our Whale Watch tours are graded with a seasickness warning announced over our PA system prior to tour departure.
Is there WIFI on-board your tours?
Yes, we have free WIFI on-board our boats as well as in and around our offices where you check-in for your tour.
Can I buy batteries or memory cards aboard the whale watch vessels?
No. So please stock up on these items at the Whale Watch Gift Shop before departure.
Does Whale Watch sell food and drinks aboard whale watch vessels?
No, however feel free to bring your own food and beverages on board.
Travelling to New Zealand — new requirements From 1 October 2019, some visitors and transit passengers must have an Electronic Travel Authority and pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy before travelling to NZ. Please visit this website for more information.
How's progress on the new Kaikōura Marina?
The new Kaikōura Marina had it's grand opening on the 14th November 2017, exactly 1 year on from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Kaikōura and it's surrounding districts. The Marina is now fully-functional.
Plan Your Journey - is the road to Kaikōura open?
State Highway 1 both North and South of Kaikōura and Inland Road Route 70 between Christchurch (via Waiau) to Kaikōura is OPEN 24/7. There are still some minor road works going on as part of the Earthquake recovery. Please drive to the conditions and visit the NZTA website for more information.
More than 200 areas along SH1 were affected by the earthquake. Close to 1 million cubic metres (about 400 Olympic-size swimming pools) of loose material dislodged by the earthquakes fell onto the road and rail line. More than 30 slips were identified south of Kaikōura and nine major slips north of Kaikōura. The recovery effort to restore the transport corridor has been a remarkable team effort.