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Kaikōura Whale Watching, New Zealand


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NZ Freephone:

0800 655 121


+64 3 319 6767


The Whaleway Station
Whaleway Road
New Zealand

Regional Information:

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Whale watching Sperm Whale Tail Whale breaching

Whale Watch Kaikōura

Whale Watch Kaikōura Introduction

Whale Watch Kaikōura is New Zealand's only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the giant sperm whale at all times of the year.

Our Kaikōura whale watching scheduled tours operate daily. Our 95% success rate means we guarantee an 80% refund if your tour does not see a whale.

Our New Zealand whale watching tours are extremely popular so we advise to book early.

Whale Watch is located in the town of Kaikōura—a scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive north from Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island. Kaikōura is a special place of lush pastures and towering, snow covered peaks that fall to the sea.

This rare magic continues just offshore where a deep undersea canyon combines with unusual sea currents to attract an extraordinary abundance of marine life, the most famous being the sperm whale.

Kaikōura's resident sperm whales are the biggest of the toothed whales and the worlds' largest carnivore. They are equivalent in size to four elephants. Each of their teeth can weigh more than a kilogram and grow to 20 centimetres long.

Sperm whales dive two kilometres into the dark abyss of the Kaikōura Canyon to hunt prey such as the giant squid. Many of Kaikōura's sperm whales wear battle scars from close encounters with this monster of the deep.

Kaikōura Whale Watching Experience

Copyright: Whale Watch Kaikōura. Whale Watch Kaikōura, Kaikōura Whale Watching, New Zealand Whale Watch

Every New Zealand whale watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant sperm whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents.

A typical Whale Watch Kaikōura 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 - and is home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hector's. 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 Kaikōura tour does not see a whale we will refund 80% of your fare.

Designed for New Zealand whale watching tours, our modern catamarans are equipped with engines that minimise underwater noise and toilets that never pollute the sea.

The main passenger cabin is enclosed and large outside decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities. Spacious air-conditioned interiors are fitted with comfortable seating while large plasma screens display our award-winning marine wildlife animations.

Passenger numbers for each New Zealand whale watch tour are kept well below our vessel carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

Whale Watch Kaikōura vessels are crewed by a friendly team of skippers and guides very experienced in interacting with the local sperm whales. They have expert knowledge of Kaikōura's sea conditions and are fully trained in all aspects of safety.

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 are always our priority.

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About Whale Watch Kaikōura

Whale Watch Kaikōura Shop

Whale Watch Kaikōura is a multiple award winning nature tourism company owned and operated by the indigenous Kati Kuri people of Kaikōura, a Maori sub-tribe of the South Island's larger Ngai Tahu Tribe.

Whale Watch was formed in 1987 at a time when Maori were casualties of Kaikōura's declining economy. At this time of difficulty, Kati Kuri leaders like Bill Solomon believed the local sperm whales held the answer to the unemployment problems of the Maori community.

Kati Kuri leaders knew their ancestor Paikea had journeyed to a new life in New Zealand on the back of the whale Tohora.

It seemed appropriate for Paikea's descendants to again ride on the back of the whale to a new life. And so it proved to be...

The Kati Kuri founders of Whale Watch mortgaged their houses to secure a loan to start the business. In the early days passengers travelled aboard a small inflatable vessel. In time, the inflatable was replaced by a larger boat with an upper viewing deck—the Uruao—until today the Whale Watch fleet numbers four modern catamarans each specially designed for whale watching.

The expansion of the Whale Watch Kaikōura fleet required the building of an entire marina in South Bay. It is from here that all Kaikōura whale watching tours now depart.

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

Whale tail Seal Vessels

Paikea and Tohora 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.

Kaikōura, New Zealand

Whale Watch Kaikōura Philosophy

Maori Whale Art

Whale Watch is committed to providing a quality Kaikōura 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.

As a Maori-owned company, Whale Watch Kaikōura 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.

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