Whale Watching in Kaikoura

You could spend a TON of money on excursions in New Zealand. There are so many things that we would love to do, but we’ve had to be selective. So no, we did not skydive or bungee jump off of the bridge where bungee was invented. We did, however, go whale watching in Kaikōura and were lucky enough to see four sperm whales and several albatross on our tour.


Like how casually I slipped that in? What I really meant was “OMG WE SAW FOUR REAL LIVE HUGE WHALES IN THE WILD DOING THEIR THING AND IT WAS MAGICAL!!!


Kaikōura is a feeding ground for male sperm whales, so the likelihood of us seeing them on our tour was pretty high. So high, that our tour operator Whale Watch Kaikōura offered an 80% refund if didn’t see a whale during our tour.


One of the reasons we picked this tour company is because they only use non-intrusive techniques to locate the whales. No sonar, fish finders, feeding, harassment — just hydrophone listening, eyes, and knowledge on where the whales typically hang out. They also work with the local plane tours to share location information when whales are spotted, which I thought was pretty cool.

Apparently, sperm whales dive down deep to feed for around 45 minutes and head back up to rest for approximately 15 minutes. So, when a whale was spotted, we knew we only had 15 minutes or less to get to it and catch a glimpse before it dove back down to the deep.


When our first whale was spotted, we were lucky enough to be able to watch him for about 10 minutes. Our boat kept a respectable distance, and yet he still felt so close. Everyone was so quiet as we just watched this massive creature blow water from his blowhole every 15 seconds.

Our guide warned us he was about to dive and in a few seconds we saw the massive tail emerge, water dripping from the edge, then it arched and he was gone.


I may have shed a tear or two, but it didn’t last long once our tour operator announced that another whale had been spotted. We did this two more times, each time just as exciting as the first.


I came into this day hoping that I’d see just one whale in the distance for a second and ended up seeing four, up close, for several minutes each.  Like I said before, it was magical, and I’m so glad that we chose this as one of our excursions.

“Aroha” from New Zealand,

Cathleen & Christopher


  1. Sean Fate

    They were mechanical whales, just like Jaws was. This company has a racket!
    I wonder if Manty was nearby?
    Awesome pics! Whales can really make you feel small, puts things in a different perspective.
    Love you guys, safe travels.


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