Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura


674 Rankers Reviews

605 Face-to-Face

4 Whale Watching

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Paikea & whale
Stunning tail shot
Kaikoura Peninsula


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.

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.


Feature Value Info


South IslandKaikoura RegionKaikoura


  • Boat Cruises
  • Whale Watching

Operating Season And Hours

Daily salings from 7.15am to 12.45pm


Showing 13 reviews of 587.

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.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Jean's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Amazing morning could not have been better! Friendly informative staff saw sperm whales, 2 blue whales(staff very excited about that) fur seals, dolphins, albatross and petrol. Thank you. Jean

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Penny Mackay's avatar

Penny Mackay

Ranking: 10/10

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.

Reviewed about 3 years ago

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

Derek Green's avatar

Derek Green

United Kingdom

Ranking: 8/10

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

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in February 2018

Troels Karlsen's avatar

Troels Karlsen


Ranking: 3/10

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.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago

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

Wilhelm Wiechel's avatar

Wilhelm Wiechel


Ranking: 9/10

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

Reviewed about 4 years ago

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.

Reviewed about 4 years ago

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Richard's avatar


Puerto Rico

Ranking: 10/10

Friendly staff, amazing experience, good value.

Reviewed about 4 years ago

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.

Reviewed about 4 years ago

Award-1-24px Congratulations Whale Watch Kaikoura

Top Ranked Awards 2015 Whale Watching Winner

David's avatar


United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

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

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Wendy's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

An absolutely beautiful experience.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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

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.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Tomas Kotul's avatar

Tomas Kotul


Ranking: 9/10

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

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in February 2017

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!!

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in January 2017