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South IslandKaikoura RegionKaikoura

Whale Watch is a multiple national and international award winning New Zealand nature-based Tourism Company owned and operated by the indigenous Ngāti Kuri people of Kaikōura, a Māori sub-tribe of the South Island's larger Ngāi Tahu Tribe.

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.

Learn more…

Paikea & whale

Paikea & whale

Stunning tail shot

Stunning tail shot

Kaikoura Peninsula

Kaikoura Peninsula

Email: res@whalewatch.co.nz

Website: Whale Watch Kaikoura

Phone: +64 319 6767

Kaikoura Address:
P O Box 89, Kaikoura

Operating Season And Hours: Daily salings from 6.45am to 14.45pm


Featured review

Whale Watch Kaikoura has selected this customer review to be pinned to the top of this page.

This review was selected by Lisa of Whale Watch Kaikoura on Mon 04 Apr, 2016.

paulmiles's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

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.

583 reviews with the most recent first, showing page 1 of 45.

Wilhelm Wiechel's avatar

Wilhelm Wiechel


Ranking: 9/10

We did whale watching with Whale Watch Kaikoura - it was great.

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Lizzie Edmonds's avatar

Lizzie Edmonds

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

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.

Richard's avatar


Puerto Rico

Ranking: 10/10

Friendly staff, amazing experience, good value.

Whale Watch Kaikoura is open for business… Visit Website …now's your chance to take a closer look.

Michael Holm's avatar

Michael Holm


Ranking: 9/10

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.

David's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

Fantastic information, great close up action with sperm whales. Incredible location.

Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.

Wendy's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

An absolutely beautiful experience.

Jack Halligan's avatar

Jack Halligan


Ranking: 8/10

Very cool experience. Two bucket list items ticked off. Got to see sperm whales which is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Tomas Kotul's avatar

Tomas Kotul


Ranking: 9/10

Very special view from the top of sperm whales and dolphins.

Felicity  Hughes's avatar

Felicity Hughes

United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

We thoroughly enjoyed this activity - amazing experience, very knowledgeable crew and we saw 2 whales!!

Award-1-24px Congratulations Whale Watch Kaikoura

Top Ranked Awards 2015 Whale Watching Winner

Sandra Reynders's avatar

Sandra Reynders


Ranking: 9/10

Very professional service and a beautiful trip. We saw 2 Sperm whales and many, many dolphins.

Peter Beeloo's avatar

Peter Beeloo


Ranking: 8/10

Was not planning to do this but i am glad i did. Amazing whale watch and orca,s as a bonus.

Whale Watch Kaikoura is open for business… Visit Website …now's your chance to take a closer look.

Lucie Colpin's avatar

Lucie Colpin


Ranking: 9/10

Incredible experience. Professional staff. Just a little bit too short.

Niall Regan's avatar

Niall Regan


Ranking: 9/10

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!