Your guide to Whale Watching in New Zealand.
Blue whales and orcas and humpbacks, oh my! From gentle giants to apex predators, whales are a diverse family of marine giants which can be found all over the coastline of New Zealand. Whether you’re heading North or South on your holiday – or both – you can slot some whale watching into your schedule with ease.
There are few sights in life more incredible than witnessing a humpback perform a breach on the water’s surface, or a pod of orcas knifing effortlessly through the water! Here are our picks for the best ways to lock in some whale watching time on your New Zealand holiday.
Whale Watching in Kaikoura
Kaikoura is NZ’s whale watching capital. It’s a known hotspot for sperm whales, which love the unusually deep waters close to the shores of Kaikoura.
One of our favourite tours to recommend, the 4-Day South Island Nature & Whale Cruise gives you a perfectly balanced experience – stay at the plush George hotel in Christchurch (home to one of the city’s best restaurants…), hit the road to the French settlement of Akaroa to see Hector’s dolphins, and of course the main event – a guided tour to Kaikoura, including whale watching and wine tasting. A classic way to see the best of Canterbury’s marine life.
More of a DIY type? Grab your rental car and embark on an awesome road trip! The 3-Day Kaikoura Whale Watch & Eco Tour is the self-driver’s whale watching tour of choice. Apartment-style accommodation on the Esplanade ensures you’re in the heart of the action, with ocean views, and the shops and restaurants of Kaikoura just a short walk. Some of NZ’s finest fish and chips and crayfish are available here – don’t miss out!
Whale Watching in Auckland
Explore the world-famous Hauraki Gulf with a guided tour on the Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari. The Hauraki Gulf is home to an incredibly diverse range of marine life, including whales and dolphins… Bryde’s whales, humpbacks and orcas can all be seen from your vessel, while your captain provides insightful commentary on the fascinating history of the Gulf. The diversity of species ensure that each cruise is totally unique, and you’ll get to meet some friendly dolphins, too!
What kinds of whales can I see in New Zealand?
Famous for its breaching displays, the majestic humpback is a favourite with whale watchers due to its captivating behaviour on the surface.
Southern Right Whales
Right whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the 19th century, but population in NZ is steadily on the rise. They are often very curious around human vessels and can be very active on the water’s surface!
There’s no confusing the orca with its instantly recognisable black and white pattern. Highly social and intelligent, orcas work in packs and demonstrate amazing levels of creativity and teamwork when hunting their prey – which in New Zealand is mostly rays, sharks and fish.
The largest creature to ever live! They have known to grow to sizes in excess of 25 metres, and live for up to 110 years. The blue whale’s heart is the size of a car.
The ocean’s largest toothed predator, known for incredible deep dives to depths in excess of 2 kilometres. Rarely encountered in most places, they’re found in unusually high numbers close to shore in Kaikoura.
Enquire today to find out more about our awesome whale watching experiences!