Whale Watching in Kaikoura

When I was in middle school, my history teacher would take a group of kids on a “New England” trip that included whale watching. I didn’t get to go on that trip but I always wanted to go whale watching. So of course, we had to make sure we visited Kaikoura while we were in NZ.

There was an earthquake that hit New Zealand (specifically in Kaikoura in 2016 that decimated a lot of the roads leading to this tourist town) so getting there was quite an adventure. We had to take the back roads and what should have been a three hour drive from Nelson/Abel Tasman National Park to Kaikoura turned into 6. Ugh. We were so late, we had to call the Top 10 Holiday park to let them know that we were getting there after their open hours and if we could still make a reservation over the phone. Thankfully it worked and they left our information on a envelope that was taped to the door….along with about five other envelopes. Turns out we weren’t the only ones.

Kaikoura is gorgeous. It also has everything: palm trees, ocean, and snow-capped mountains. We were in love (again).

There is only one whale watching company in Kaikoura (here’s the LINK) and it’s called simply Whale Watch Kaikoura….I had my concerns about whether or not we would see any whales but they have a 95% success rate in finding at least one whale (working with other fisherman and pilots in the area, they are always in contact to make sure everyone has the most up to date information on whale locations). But just to sweeten the pot: you get an 85% refund if you DON’T see a whale. I figured that it would then be worth it to give this company a shot.


We got into their jet boat and we buzzed around the bay to locations in hopes of seeing whales. The most common in the area (at this time of year) are the sperm whales. They can hold their breath underwater for about 45 minutes. So when the previous tour see a whale dive, they mark the spot, knowing that one of the following tours can make it in that window.

I would have been happy if i saw one whale….but we saw three! How cool is that?! I will admit that I was starting to get a little seasick in the end, but it was totally worth it! I am so happy to have crossed this off my bucket list.

Have you done some whale watching? If so, what sea life have you seen?

bis nächste Woche….until then, here are more photos from our day!

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