Every tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents.

A typical whale watching 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.

Kaikoura often hosts the world's largest dolphin - the Orca - and is home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hector's. These serene waters also attract 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.

Rates - including tax

Type Rate
Adult Rate
(Ages 16+):
$100.82
Child Rate
(Ages 3-15):
$39.73

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Tour / Activity Details

approximately 3.5 hours
10:00 am and/or 12:45 pm daily (schedule varies seasonally)
All tours are weather permitting.

7 Days Minimum Advance Booking Required (14 days advised).  Minimum age is 3.  A minimum of 10 total passengers is required for the tour to depart.  Smaller parties will be combined.  Tour does not include hotel pick-up or drop-off.  The departure location at Whaleway Station will be noted on your E-Ticket.  Rates are per person in US Dollars.  Please order online or call us in the USA at 212-852-4822 to order or for more information.

There is a $6.95 USD processing fee per order. This is a flat fee regardless of the number of tickets or tours purchased on an order. There is a service charge per ticket. This charge will be reflected on your summary before you checkout. The total shown at checkout includes any fuel surcharges, service charges and tax. There are no additional charges, unless otherwise specified.

Tour / Activity Policies

Cancellation Policy: There are no refunds. All sales are final.

Change Fee Policy: If changes are allowed on a tour or activity, a $20.00 per reservation change fee will be applied for any change to a reservation. Please note that some tours and activities do not allow any changes. Date changes can only be made only if we can confirm availability on the new date. While we cannot guarantee any changes can be made, all change requests must be submitted a minimum of 24 hours prior to the tour departure and must be handled on an individual basis through our Reservations Center.

Tour / Activity Description

COVID-19 Protocols Updates

  • The New Zealand government has outlined a five-step reopening plan. The border is now open to New Zealand citizens coming from anywhere in the world. By May 1, fully vaccinated people from Australia or visa waiver countries - including the United Kingdom, the United States and many European nations -- will be able to enter New Zealand and self-test on arrival. By October, all visa categories will reopen, including visitor visas.

Tours are operating (weather permitting and minimum passenger numbers achieved) under governmental guidelines:

  1. If you are unwell, have been to a place of interest in the last 14-days or are awaiting a covid test, please stay home.
  2. Contact tracing is required so you will be asked to scan in with the covid tracer app or use the manual sign-in option provided.
  3. Please wear a face covering.
  4. Cleaning procedures have been enhanced and hand sanitizer is available.
  5. Please listen to all instructions provided by the tour team and please be patient.

 

About Kaikoura:

These whale watching tours depart from the town of Kaikoura - a scenic 2.5 hour drive north from Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island. Kaikoura is a special place of lush pastures and towering, snow covered peaks that fall to the sea. This rare magic continues just offshore where a deep undersea canyon combines with unusual sea currents to attract an extraordinary abundance of marine life, the most famous being the Sperm Whale.

 

About the Vessels:

Designed specifically for whale watching, these modern catamarans are equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and toilets that never pollute the sea.

The main passenger cabin is enclosed and large outside decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities. Spacious air-conditioned interiors are fitted with comfortable seating and large plasma screens display award-winning marine wildlife animations.

Passenger numbers for each tour are kept well below the vessel's carrying capacity to ensure your tour experience remains a personal one.

 

About the Crew:

The vessels are crewed by a friendly team of Skippers and Guides who are very experienced in interacting with the local Sperm Whales. They have expert knowledge of Kaikoura's sea conditions and are fully trained in all aspects of safety.

 

About Sperm Whales:

Kaikoura's resident Sperm Whales are the biggest of the toothed whales and the world's largest carnivore. They are equivalent in size to four elephants. Each of their teeth can weigh more than a kilogram and grow to 20cm long. Sperm Whales dive 2km into the dark abyss of the Kaikoura Canyon to hunt prey such as the Giant Squid. Many of Kaikoura's Sperm Whales wear battle scars from close encounters with this monster of the deep.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to book in advance? -- Yes. There is a high demand for these tours. Guides advise you to book at least two weeks in advance.

Am I guaranteed to see a whale? -- No. However, the chances are very high. These whale watching tours have a 95% success rate in finding whales.

What happens if the sea and weather conditions are not suitable? -- Whale watching tours always depend on sea conditions. The crew constantly monitors the weather and responds professionally to any changes. This may mean a tour is canceled or safety restrictions placed on children or passengers with medical problems. Passenger comfort and safety is always the #1 priority.

If my tour is canceled, will I automatically be transferred to the next one? -- No. When a tour is canceled, the guides will do their best to accommodate you on another one. However, you need to request this, and it's based on availability.

How long is the tour? -- The actual time on the water is up to 2.5 hours. Including check-in time and transfer by bus, you should allow 3.5 hours in total.

What should I wear on my whale watching tour? -- Dress warmly and wear flat shoes. If you wish to spend time on the outside decks, you may need light waterproof clothing depending on the sea conditions.

What if I get seasick? -- If you are susceptible to motion or seasickness, the guides offer Aqua Straps for rent or purchase. They also sell a range of natural active motion-sickness tablets. All whale watching tours are graded with a seasickness warning announced over the PA system prior to tour departure.

Can I buy film aboard the whale watching vessel? -- No. Please stock up on film before departing.

Is advance notice needed for handicapped customers? -- These vessels can accommodate a limited number of handicapped customers per whale watching tour, so the crew requires a minimum of 72 hours' notice. Please note any handicapped passengers on the Order Form. Sorry, but these whale watching vessels are not wheelchair-accessible.

 

7 Days Minimum Advance Booking Required (14 days advised).  Minimum age is 3.  A minimum of 10 total passengers is required for the tour to depart.  Smaller parties will be combined.  Tour does not include hotel pick-up or drop-off.  The departure location at Whaleway Station will be noted on your E-Ticket.  Rates are per person in US Dollars.  Please order online or call us in the USA at 212-852-4822 to order or for more information.

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