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.
South Island ▷ Kaikoura Region ▷ Kaikoura
Operating Season And Hours
Daily salings from 6.45am to 14.45pm
Showing 13 reviews of 586.
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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.
Over the years we have done several commercial boat trips and are boaties ourselves. Have also done a whale watch trip in Australia which was good but have never done as good and professional a trip as this before. The crew are all very professional and have a fun, passion and enthusiasm you don’t normally see in a tourist activity. We saw a sperm whale, a Right Whale, hectors dolphins, decal types of albatross/Molly mask and giant petrel plus Huttons Shearwater. Thanks to the organisation and especially Jamie, Josh and Jagen (don’t know the spelling sorry but an amazing and passionate speaker) and the Captain whose name I don’t recall. It was a great trip.
Access savings worth hundreds of $$ on Top Ranked NZ Accommodation and Activities for just $1 per day.
Very enjoyable trip. disappointed that the whales were too far offshore to see many but grateful the team were able to locate a single sperm whale that they knew was nearby tot he shore. God trip very professional
Would not recommend. Not worth either the time or the money. The whales are nice, but you spend soo much time in order to get to them, and then they are there for 2 minutes, after which you spend a lot of time looking for the next one. Too commercialized also, with three boats basically hunting the whales around, after planes or helicopters had spotted them. The crew created a massive hype, which really did not materialize. One of the engines of the boat broke down on the way back, which also extended our trip by around 40 minutes. Did see seals and a few albatros, which were nice, but those can easily be spotted from the shore elsewhere.
The boat and the crew were nice, but it was just such a waste of time and money anyways. Also I do not see why everyone has to gather in the city, in order to take a bus to the jetty, when most people have a car anyways. Probably just so that people will buy stuff from their souvenir shop.
We did whale watching with Whale Watch Kaikoura - it was great.
Unfortunately we did not see any whales on our trip - however we did see dusky dolphins, seals and albatross. The boat was nice and the crew was great. Would recommend.
Friendly staff, amazing experience, good value.
Despite the sea sickness, it was an amazing experience to see the Albatross, seal and the sperm whale for 10 minutes. Great, fun and informative guide and staff.
Fantastic information, great close up action with sperm whales. Incredible location.
An absolutely beautiful experience.
Very cool experience. Two bucket list items ticked off. Got to see sperm whales which is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Very special view from the top of sperm whales and dolphins.
We thoroughly enjoyed this activity - amazing experience, very knowledgeable crew and we saw 2 whales!!
Very professional service and a beautiful trip. We saw 2 Sperm whales and many, many dolphins.