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Whale Watching in Kaikoura by Boat

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Kaikōura, New Zealand
Whale Watching in Kaikoura by Boat

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Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance. Learn more
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icon3 hours 30 minutes  (approx.)
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here


Located on the eastern shores of New Zealand’s South Island, Kaikoura is famous for the spectacular array of marine wildlife living off its shores—but to see the best of it, you have to take to the waves. On this tour, cruise into Kaikoura’s deep waters by speedy catamaran with running commentary throughout from your guide, and spot dolphins, seals, and sperm whales in their natural habitat.
  • Explore the deep waters off Kaikoura by speedy catamaran with your guide
  • Sightings of native sperm whales in their natural environment
  • Live commentary sheds light on the whales’ habits and life-cycle
  • 80% refund if you don’t see a whale on your tour
Saved to wishlist!
Tours operates all year round
Modern fleet of purpose built catamarans
95% success rate backed up by an 80% refund if your tour does not see a whale
Experienced knowledgeable staff providing a running commentary throughout your tour
Award winning onboard animations
Bus ride to and from our marina
Food and drinks
Whaleway Station Road , Whaleway Station Road, Kaikōura 7300, New Zealand

Departure Point: Whale Watch Kaikoura is located on Whaleway Station Road just a short walk or drive from the town centre - our office is based at the Old Railway Station. Address: Whale Watch Kaikoura Whaleway Station Road Kaikoura 7300

This activity will end right where it started.
  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Tours operate all year: 7.15am, 10.00am, 12.45pm & 3.30pm (Nov-Mar)—Please note that these are check-in times only - please do not come earlier than the times specified.
  • The minimum age limit for children traveling on a whale watch tour is 3yrs+, although Whale Watch Kaikōura maintains the right to raise the age limit depending on sea and weather conditions at the time of check-in.
  • All our tour are subject to favourable weather & sea conditions. If cancelled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund.
  • Whale Watch staff constantly monitor the weather and respond professionally to any changes. This may mean a tour is cancelled or safety restrictions placed on children or passengers with medical problems. Passenger comfort and safety is always our priority. Passengers travelling to join us on the day of their tour are strongly advised to telephone the FREEPHONE number 0800 655 121 for a sea conditions update.
  • Dress warmly and wear flat shoes. If you wish to spend time on the outside decks of our vessels you may need light waterproof clothing depending on the sea conditions.
  • Don't let sea sickness ruin your whale watch tour experience. Purchase motion sickness pills to help prevent sea sickness, car sickness, or any type of travel sickness from our Retail Store before you travel.
  • The actual time on the water is up to 2.5 hours. Including check-in time, safety briefing and bus transfers you should allow 3.5 hours in total.
  • Stroller accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • If travelling in a wheelchair please contact us prior to arrival so we can provide additional details and advise how we can assist you
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 48 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Whale Watch Kaikoura Ltd
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

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Traveler Tips

  • "This was not the case as you are required to be seated the whole time the boat is moving and there is really nothing to see but water!" See review

Reviews by Viator travelers.  We perform checks on reviews


2,352 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

We perform checks on reviews

Showing 1-10 of 2,352 reviews
Saw a whale
, Aug 2022
Seeing a sperms Whale and a hump back Whale. The sun was shining. Our hostess has good charisma. The boat was not over crowded. I felt safe.
, Jan 2022
Hector's dolphins were the highlight. Great team and service. Vessel was clean and tidy. Captain was great at getting the vessel to the whale, crew were really knowledgeable providing history of the area and especially when to take the photos. Highly recommend.
Glad we went
, Jan 2022
While we did have to search and look out for signs of the whales being in the area, it did get a little boring however seeing the sperm whale dive down and the orcas was well worth the trip
Beautiful seas and sky
, Sep 2021
Plenty of playful dolphins, not a day for whales. Humpback whale surfaced but not to see a lot. Thats how it can be.
1 traveler found this review helpful
, Aug 2021
Seeing a sperm whale, waiting for moment to see the tail as he dived back down. Truly awesome. And great to see dolphins.
, Jul 2021
Seeing sperm whales and orcas! We loved the tour guide also who did a fantastic job. We would recommend this to anyone!
A magical experience and well worth the cost.
, May 2021
The sperm whale blowing and diving. Commentary during the trip was very informative and helpful especially around the sperm whale diving.
Amazing, amazing and amazing 5 stars!
, Mar 2021
The whale watch experience was amazing along with the amazing crew onboard the boat making for such a fantastic day. We saw a whale on the surface and watched him dive down, just incredible! Dolphins flipping out of the water on our way back in rounded out the day! You don’t want to miss out on this one, believe me you won’t be disappointed! Thank you to the great team both at home base and on the boat so passionate about what they do so friendly and helpful, great work team.
Great day out.
, Feb 2021
We had an awesome day out. Saw the sperm whale and pods of dolphins. Lots of information was given about the whales. A great day out.
Kaikoura 2021
, Jan 2021
Awesome trip, a must do if you're visiting Kaikoura. We saw whales, hector dolphins, seals, petrels and albatross. Brand new boat which was superfast and handled the swell easily, recommend taking Sea Legs if you suffer from seasickness. Crew were amazing and very knowledgeable.
icon Response from Host , Jan 2021
Kia Ora Marion, thanks for your feedback we are so glad that you were able to join with us and have such a wonderful time.
1 traveler found this review helpful
Close encounter with a Sperm Whale
, Dec 2020
The Commentary was a highlight- the wit and humour, passion & the enthusiasm was infectious! The boat manoeuvring and expertise of the captain is commendable. The quality of the boat is worth a mention,
icon Response from Host , Dec 2020
Thanks so much for your kind words, we are so glad to hear that you had a wonderful time with us.
Will do after we have been
, Dec 2020
Haven't been yet. Was very easy to book but when we needed to change dates viator were impossible to get hold of. Went direct to Whale Watch company and they were awesome. Book directly with Kaikoura Whale Watch and save yourself any hassle
icon Response from Host , Dec 2020
Thanks for your review. It is great to hear that our team were able to help you out with your booking.
Kaikoura at it's best
, Sep 2020
What a fantastic experience. The crew were great. Informative entertaining and commentary. The only disappointing aspect was the receptionist at the booking office on our arrival. She was very surly. Highly recommended experience.
Bucket List
, Sep 2020
We had an excellent day. The sea was calm and the sun was shining. We only got to see one whale but it was wonderful and all the dolphins were amazing
Whale watching March 9th
, Apr 2020
We had a brilliant time we also saw dolphins seals albatross and 2 whales the commentary and knowledge was excellent would recommend a worthy purchase
Lovely experience!
, Mar 2020
2 sperm whales, an amazing amount of dolphins happily swimming and bouncing in the air, and seals soaking up sun on rock ledges. Be sure to take sea sickness meds before you go.
The boat crew were amazing. Knowledgeable and friendly.
, Mar 2020
Amazing staff. Helpful and friendly. I highly recommend to all travellers wanting to experience true NZ hospitality
paying passenger
, Mar 2020
This was unfortunately the low point of an otherwise great cruising vacation. The day before for this activity was cancelled due to rough seas, and should have been on the day we went. The seas were very rough and I got motion sickness early and threw up for about 1.5 hours and was just miserable. In over 2 hours we only saw one whale for a few minutes, and you could barely just see it's back only, so not worth the money or being totally uncomfortable. They did not want to lose money by cancelling 2 days in a row so they had the tour anyway. I wish I could get a refund or future voucher from Viator. I would appreciate a reply on this.
A boat trip not to miss !!
, Mar 2020
A very well organised boat trip. The commentary on board was informative and we were given every opportunity to photograph the whales, dolphins and even the blue shark that was spotted very close to the boat. All the crew were very helpful. Would definitely recommend this trip.
Whale watch
, Mar 2020
Saw two sperm whales for about 5 and 3 minutes respectively in a trip of 2 hours 20 minutes. It took 50 minutes to travel out and back leaving 40 minutes trying to find whales. I know they are wild animals but for the price there are better things to do like swim with dolphins which was much more exciting and rewarding. And lasted longer.

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