Whales & Marine Life


Kaikoura is home to a year round population of Sperm Whale and Dusky Dolphins. This is because the Kaikoura Canyon, a deep trench running close to the coastline, provides a rich feeding ground. Migratory visitors such as Orca, Humpback, Southern Right, Minke and Blue Whales can also be seen on occasion in Kaikoura waters.

Giant Sperm Whale
Giant Sperm Whale
  • Physeter Macrocephalus
  • Length: 22 meters
  • Weight: 65,000 KG
  • Type: Toothed Whale

The Sperm Whale is the local resident whale here in Kaikoura. They come up to breathe and rest, often spending around 15 minutes on the surface at a time.

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Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale
  • Megaptera Novaeangliae
  • Length: 16 meters
  • Weight: 40,000 KG
  • Type: Baleen Whale

Humpback Whales are common visitors to the waters of Kaikoura. They come here to feed off the krill and shoaling fish which live within 50m of the water’s surface. These baleen whales can often be seen performing amazing displays of breaching and flipper slapping.

Blue Whale
Blue Whale
  • Balaenoptera Musculus
  • Length: 30 meters
  • Weight: 190,000 KG
  • Type: Baleen Whale

The Blue Whale is the largest of the whales, growing to be as long as a Space Shuttle. The Blue Whales heart is the same size as a small car. These amazing marine mammals are baleen whales and feed on almost 5 tons of krill a day.

Dusky Dolphins
Dusky Dolphins
  • Lagenorhynchus Obscurus
  • Length: 2.1 meters
  • Weight: 85 KG
  • Type: Carnivore

Dusky Dolphins live in large pods of 300-400. These spectacular creatures love leaping out of the sea and are also very playful with boats. From the air you can get an excellent view of the entire pod playing and jumping.

Orca Whale
ORCA (KILLER WHALES)
  • Orcinus Orca
  • Length: 9.8 meters
  • Weight: 3,000 KG
  • Type: Carnivore

Orca, commonly mistaken for a type of whale, are the largest of the dolphins. They live in family pods and hunt seals and dolphins. They get their name from early whalers who labelled them "The Killer of Whales". Orca have been known to attach and kill whales and often work in a team to separate the young calf from the mother before drowning them.

New Zealand Fur Seal
New Zealand Fur Seal
  • Arctocephalus Forsteri
  • Male Length: up to 2m
  • Female Length: 1.5m
  • Male Weight: 126 KG
  • Female Weight: 30.50 KG
  • Diet: Cephalopods, fish, and birds

New Zealand Fur Seals have external ears and hind flippers that rotate forward, which visibly distinguish them from other seals. They have a pointy nose with long pale whiskers and are covered by two layers of fur. The coat is grey-brown on their back, and lighter on their belly.