Get up to $15 cash back per person when you book with us
Join one of New Zealand's best whale watching tours
80% refund if your tour does not see a whale
Possible dolphin and New Zealand fur seal sightings
Onboard 'World of the Whales' visual presentation
Please note: Bookings are manual and available departure times may vary.
What to Expect
Welcome to Kaikoura! This is a special part of New Zealand, full of beautiful scenery and some truly amazing experiences. Here, tectonic plates collide and ocean currents converge, luring an abundance of marine wildlife to the area. The most famous of these species is the Giant Sperm Whale. This tour gives you the chance to get up close to these majestic beasts, and with a 95% success rate, you're almost guaranteed to spot one!
Kaikoura is also an area rich in Maori traditions and whaling history, and this tour is a great way to learn about and experience this.
Where we visit
First, check-in and complete a safety briefing to prepare you for the trip! Your Whale Watch Coach will then take you to the South Bay Harbour where your tour vessel departs from. The trip to South Bay takes approximately 8-10 minutes. There, you'll be met by a Whale Watch Sea Crew Staff member and boarded onto your vessel.
On your tour, the main focus is to locate and watch the Giant Sperm whale. Usually, tours average between 1 to 2 whale sightings per trip. In Kaikoura, the Sperm whale’s dive time ranges between 40-60 minutes, so you might have to watch for a while to see one emerge!
The Sperm whales primarily viewed off the Kaikoura coastline are all males, and they form loose pods, keeping several miles between each other. Because of this, viewing any more than 1 to 2 whales per trip is a real bonus. You might get lucky!
There's also the opportunity for other marine animal sightings, as this area is so rich in wildlife. You might see Blue, Fin, Sei, Humpback, Minke, Pilot, Orca and Southern Right Whales, various types of dolphins, Elephant Seals and Leopard Seals. If you have enough time available after spotting the Sperm whales, your skipper may decide to move in along the coastline and see what other types of marine life can be discovered.
Throughout your tour, you'll also have the chance to watch an onboard visual presentation, 'World of the Whales'. This visual experience takes passengers “virtually” to the bottom of the Kaikoura undersea canyon. The presentation also provides information on a variety of marine life found in Kaikoura waters. Please note the presentations are in English and there are no captions available.
You'll spend approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes on the water on this tour. Allow 3 hours 30 minutes for the full trip including check-in and safety briefing.
Please note: Tours operate every day (weather permitting) excluding Christmas Day. Tour time all year is 7:15am. There are departures at 10am and 12.45pm. An extra tour is scheduled at 3:30pm from November to March.
Frequently Asked Questions
Children under 3 years are not permitted on the tour.
All year: 7:15am, 10am, 12:45pm & 3.::0pm (Nov-Mar)—Please note that these are check-in times only - please do not come earlier than the times specified.
Tour scheduling is subject to customer demand, please note that check-in times do not indicate when the actual tour departs but when check-in procedures begin.
Whale Watch operate tours every day (weather permitting) excluding Christmas Day. Tour check-in occurs at the Whaleway Station (Whale Watch Office).
All children between 3 and 15 years old (inclusive) apply to the child rate
Yes. If the sea conditions are suitable, The Operator is able to take wheel chair passengers with us, however there are times when captains may place a mobility restriction on tours if they deem sea conditions unsuitable. See here for further details on Wheel Chair Accessibility.
Whale Watch Kaikōura has a Gold Trax Seal of Approval. The Trax Seal of Approval is New Zealand’s benchmark of Adaptive Adventure Travel & Inclusive Tourism. Find other inclusive tourism operators in New Zealand here.
Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Typically you'll see 1-2 whales per tour. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch 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 especially during summer months. Kaikōura is also home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hectors. 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 tour does not see a whale, The Operator will refund 80% of your fare.
Please note that during the months of Nov - Mar there is a rest period in place for viewing of the Dusky Dolphins between the hours of 11:30am to 1:30pm. This is mandatory for all vessels and has been put in place by the Department of Conservation, this restricts viewing of dolphins on tours during these times.
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Check-in deadlines apply and may be strictly enforced. To help get your tour away on time, ensure you are at the departure point by the time specified. You will not be able to check-in after the check-in deadline. Arrival after the check-in deadline may result in you losing your tour and the entire fare paid. The boat will not be held for you if you arrive late at the departure point.
There is no guarantee that whales will be seen on your tour. In the event your tour does not sight a whale The Operator guarantees to refund 80% of your tour cost.
- The Operator does not guarantee that your tour will take place at the scheduled time. Schedules may change without notice for a variety of reasons including, but not limited, to bad weather and technical disruptions. Scheduled times do not form part of your contract with us.
The Operator reserves the right to cancel or change a tour or to replace any boats at any time in the interests of passenger safety. Weather and sea conditions can change quickly and this may alter the status of your tour at any time. In rough sea conditions, the boat captain may increase child age limits or place restrictions on or refuse to carry passengers with medical conditions and/or limited mobility and on passengers who are pregnant.
- No refunds will be given in the event of your failure to notify us of your cancellation 48 hours before the check-in time
All customer cancellation & refund requests are also subject to our website’s own refund conditions.
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