UPDATE: Kaikoura Earthquake November 2016
Our thoughts, best wishes and prayers are with everyone affected by the earthquakes that struck the northern areas of New Zealand’s South Island.
Please know that you have many friends around the world who are standing with you through this very tough time. We are all looking forward to seeing you back on your feet very soon. We also can’t wait to come back to visit and spend time with you in our beloved Kaikoura, one of the most beautiful and special places on Earth.
Best wishes and take care WS!
I’m often asked what my favourite whale is? Well that’s a difficult one. There’s the Minke’s for looks, Southern Rights for hanging in there, Blues just because wow, Humpbacks for joy and then there’s the Sperm Whale…
Largest of the toothed whales, largest brain of any animal, can hold its breath for hours, can dive thousands of metres to the depth of the oceans, has epic battles with eight meter long Giant Squid! I mean REALLY? Everything about the Sperm whale is amazing and also just a bit mysterious too.
Female Sperm Whales live in maternal pods ruled by a grandmother matriarch in the warmer water’s near the equator. At puberty the boys are kicked out of these pods and head into the cooler temperate waters, with mature bull males cruising deep into the Southern Ocean. Males are usually solitary but do form into bachelor pods.
Sperm whales specialise in deep water hunting and can easily dive to several thousand meters in search of prey. This means they are found far out to sea in the deep oceans and are not often seen close to land.
The Kaikoura Canyon
I’ve travelled to Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island because it is one of the few places on earth where Sperm Whales can be seen within a few kilometres of the coast. What makes Kaikoura so special is that New Zealand’s continental shelf drops over a 1000 metres into the Kaikoura Canyon only a few kilometres from the coast. The Kaikoura Canyon is U shaped, 60 kilometres long and up to 1200 meters deep. It leeds into the even larger 1500 kilometre long Hikurangi Channel and then out to the southwest Pacific Basin.
These submarine canyons are a perfect hunting ground for Sperm Whales and a semi permanent bachelor pod gathers at Kaikoura most of the year. So much so that some of the whales have been named.
Tiaki – The Guardian. He is one of Kaikoura’s most dominant whales and has been known to look after younger sperm whales visiting Kaikoura.
Tutu – Special Ocean Dweller. This is the shortened version of the Maori word Tutumairekurai. Tutu’s dorsal fin is very similar in shape to a Hectors Dolphins which has been given this Maori name.
Manu – Birdie. When Manu dives the silhouette of his tail looks very much like a bird in flight.
The rich waters of Kaikoura are not only home to Sperm Whales but Dusky and Hectors Dolphins call Kaikoura home. Humpback, Southern Right, Blue and Killer Whales also migrate through the area as well.
Whale Watch Kaikoura
Kaikoura and whales go a very long way back! Māori legend tells the story of Kahutia-te-rangi who is an of ancestor of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Porou, Māori tribes in the South Island and east coast of New Zealand’s North Island who was saved from an attempt on his life by his half-brother Ruatapu by a humpback whales (paikea). In remembrance of this he took the name Paikea ‘The Whale Rider’.
Today it would seem only natural that whale watching would become a primary tourist industry in the area but it took the very tough economic times of the 1980’s and the vision of local Māori elders such as Bill Solomon to follow the example of their great ancestor Paikea ‘The Whale Rider’ and set up Whale Watch Kaikoura.
Since then Whale Watch Kaikoura has grown into a multiple award winning business that is renowned as one of New Zealand’s premier tourism experiences.
Whale watching trips leave daily depending on weather and sea conditions. Please see Whale Watch Kaikoura’s website for current conditions and trip availability. WWK Website
Whale Watch Kaikoura
The ‘Whaleway’ Station
Whaleway Road, Kaikoura
I would like to thank Lisa Bond, Marketing Manager and all the staff and crews from Whale Watch Kaikoura for all their great support, advise and encouragement in creating this page.
Nikon D610 with Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f4G ED VR
Nikon D7200 with Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens
The camera gear was kept safe and dry in a Lowepro DryZone DF 20L waterproof duffle bag.
Sirui W-2204 Waterproof Tripod with Sirui K-20X
Thanks to Nikon Australia for their continued support and encouragement! Nikon Australia
Thanks to Maxwell International Australia for all your wonderful support and guidance with Lowepro camera bags. Lowepro
Thanks to Mainline Photographics for all your wonderful support with Siri tripods. Mainline Photographics