OPENING HOURS: Daily sailings from 6.45am to 14.45pm
COST: Whalewatch Tour – $150 per person | Kaikoura Marine Combo – $396.00 per person | Christchurch to Kaikoura Day Tour $315 per person
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.
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This review was selected by Lisa of Whale Watch Kaikoura on Mon 04 Apr, 2016.
Very professional setup, safety paramount. Short coach trip to south harbour then 2+ hours at sea. Very knowledgeable staff. We were probably very lucky in that we saw a whale almost straight away, followed by a pod of 200 or more dusky dolphins who performed fantastic acrobatics for at least 30 mins. Also saw petrels, albatross and a couple of sharks. Not a cheap trip but how often can you see whales? And the dolphns were magical.
573 reviews with the most recent first, showing page 1 of 45.
Was not planning to do this but i am glad i did. Amazing whale watch and orca,s as a bonus.
Access savings worth hundreds of $$ on Top Ranked NZ Accommodation and Activities for just $1 per day.
Incredible experience. Professional staff. Just a little bit too short.
Getting to see whales was amazing, the boat and crew were both fantastic. We saw Hector dolphins as well as Albatross and seals - an amazing day!
We saw some dolphins and two whales. It was beautiful but you do not really see much of the whales. I liked it but it does not deserve to be $150 per person.
Awesome! Saw 2 whales, a few dolphins and a lot of birds. People are very nice and give you a lot of information.
Just one whale, but a lot of dolphins.
Great experience - saw 2 sperm whales, dolphins and seals. Staff were very informative and professional. A little overpriced.
Brilliant to see the whales and dolphins in Kaikoura and very exciting. Only objection is it is a little expensive.
We have seen three sperm whales during the tour and a lot of dolphins. The money was worth it!
Amazing (a word Dutch do not use very often!) tour, well trained and enthusiastic guides!! Lots of information, 98% chance of seeing a whale, saw dolphins as well.
Wendy van Boom
Another great thing to do in Kaikoura. We got a lot of information about sperm whales and the staff looked out for them with echo location. We saw two. A marvellous moment when they went down.
Great trip, great information, great wildlife. Many people (big group), but this organisation handles it pretty good. Thumbs up!!
We did this trip with Whale Watch Kaikoura in early March 2017. Of our 3 week trip to the South Island, this was probably our favorite day! We saw sperm whales and orcas, HUNDREDS of flipping dusty dolphins that were nothing short of magical! In addition, a couple of sharks and some albatross came by. The staff was very nice, informative, and friendly. We had a beautiful day and I definitely recommend this tour.