Home to a unique ocean environment with an astonishing variety of marine life including whales, dolphins, seals and albatross, Kaikoura provides an unforgettable location to experience eco-tourism at its best.
Within the Kaikoura District, you will find some of the most breath-taking scenery in the country with a stunning coastline, a dramatic peninsula and some of the South Island’s highest mountains close to the ocean.
Whale watching runs year round by boat, plane or helicopter. Here, you can observe the majestic Sperm Whale breach for air then flick its tail before returning to the depths. Swim the open ocean with dusky dolphins in their natural habitat or watch from the comfort of the boat. Snorkel and swim with wild New Zealand fur seals. Marvel over the diversity of seabirds, including up to 13 species of albatross. Experience the fun of deep sea fishing in abundant waters. From one hour trips to full day charters, all gear is provided and you can be as involved as you like. Paddle around the Kaikoura Peninsular with experienced guides. These eco-friendly tours include chance encounters with seals and dolphins, and a lot of good fun.
Kaikoura boasts an array of coastal and alpine walks varying from half an hour to three days. The stunning Peninsula Walkway starts at a natural seal colony at Point Kean and offers amazing views on a well-maintained track with interpretation panels on the way. Mount Fyffe summit reaches 1602m above sea level, boasting panoramic vistas and is an approx. eight hours return trip from the car park. Mountain biking is also an excellent way to explore the beauty of Kaikoura. A single track and gravel road runs from Kaikoura to the Mount Fyffe car park through pine forests and along riverbanks. The trail is well signposted – keep an eye out for the Kaikoura Cycling Club bike symbol for direction.
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Marine Mammal Spotlight - Dusky Dolphins
Not only do we have the sperm whale off our coastline all year round but Kaik?ura is also home to the resident dusky dolphin. On our tours we have around a 50/50 chance of viewing dolphins if time allows and if they are not feeding too far from where we are viewing whales.
The dusky dolphins are small stocky and acrobatic species of dolphin; they are plentiful off the Kaik?ura coast where they can be seen in pods of between 100 – 1000 individuals. These dolphins can grow up to a length of 2m and can often be sighted doing leaps, jumps, flips and tail slaps in dramatic hunting and mating rituals – always a fantastic sight to see.
In autumn and winter pod sizes tend to be at their greatest. For this reason, Kaik?ura is recognised as one of the best places in the world to regularly encounter (and swim with) wild dolphins in their natural environment.
Mating usually takes place during spring & summer, it is not uncommon during spring (September to December) to see new calves swimming around with their mothers learning to art of jumping out of the water – such a cute sight to see. The gestation period for the female is 11 months with dusky mums giving birth every 2-3 years!
Duskies feed on small fish and squid. They chase their food down using echolocation and sound...dusky squeaks and squeals. Duskies often work together to herd their prey together into a tight group which makes it easier to pick out individual fish.
The relatively large size, social nature and sheer speed of the Dusky dolphin mean that it has very few predators that hunt it in its natural environment. They are at risk of being hunted by killer whales and some species of shark. There have been times where we have witnessed on our tours killer whales teaching their young how to hunt, and while it is a hard thing to see it really is nature at its best.
Please note that during the months of Nov - Mar there is a rest period in place for viewing of the Dusky Dolphins between the hours of 11.30am to 1.30pm. This is mandatory for all vessels and has been put in place by the Department of Conservation, this restricts viewing of dolphins on our tours during these times.