“ Address: Railway Station Road / Kaikoura / South Island / New Zealand / Tel: 64 3 319 6767 „
I visited Kaikoura in the South Island of New Zealand with the specific aim of seeing some of the great sea life which is available there.
Kaikoura is famed for its rich plankton resource which means that whales, dolphins, seals and sharks are all in abundent supply in the area. This means that tourists to the area can swim with dolphins or seals, and track sharks and whales.
The whale watching tour within Kaikoura is run by a company called Whale Watch Kaikoura if you would like to do a boat tour. Try http://www.kaikourawhalewatching.com/ for more information. There are also options of sea plane or helicopter tours to see the whales but I havent done that.
The first thing that it is worth knowing about whale watching is that it is not guarenteed. If the sea is too rough then trips get cancelled at very short notice so I would recommend staying a couple of days in Kaikoura to maximise your chances of getting out to sea. If it is cancelled you do get your money back but that is scarce consolation.
If you don't see any whales there is also a partial refund!
This is not a cheap trip - it lasts around 2.5 hours and currently costs $140 NZ for adults (roughly £60-65). But that includes everything so is probably worth it!
The tours run at various times of the day - the best is supposed to be the early morning one which is the one I took. The downside of this is that you have to be there at 5.30 AM!!!!!!!
You arrive at the centre and sign your life away - I would definitely pre book your tour as it can get very busy especially in peak season.
Then you are shown a video about the whales and fitted with a life jacket which you must wear at all times. Normally they expect to see the Sperm Whale but there are other types of whales that you might see and these are shown to you on the video!
The boat is a mid sized speed boat - you can sit inside and I would wrap up warm as it is not warm when you are going very quickly! It is very bumpy and I got very sea sick. Buckets and airline style sick bags are provided free of charge! Definitely worth taking the sea sickness pills first!
The sea can get very rough (subject to cancellations) so be warned.
Did we see any whales?
Yes, boy did we see whales. The skippers of the boats are in radio communication so once a whale is spotted the boats will track them. So MOST of the time you will see at least one whale.
We were incredibly lucky, we got to see both the sperm whale (see my photo!) and the Southern Right whale. Now the Southern Right whale is an amazing creature which is covered in barnacles and is like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. This whale had not been spotted for 6 years so all the staff were thrilled to see it too. We were able to see this whale for around 10 minutes.
Unfortunately it then dived to the bottom and as it could be there for 45 minutes to an hour we went to look for sperm whale.
Again we saw several of these, two playing together were the highlight but we also saw one do a perfect dive. Whales are amazing creatures, stately and awe inspiring.
In addition to this we got to see a pod of dolphins, plus a couple of sharks.
All in all an awesome trip despite the sea sickness and the cold I would recommend to anyone!