The coastal town of Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world for watching whales and dolphins. Offshore, the seabed drops rapidly to the kilometre-deep Kaikoura Canyon, a geographic feature that brings ocean mammals here in large numbers.
Sightings vary, but close encounters with giant sperm whales coast can be enjoyed year-round. Giant sperm whales are the world's largest predator and can reach up to 20 metres in length, equivalent in size to four elephants.
Migratory humpback, pilot, orca and southern right whales can also be seen, depending on the season. Other species to look out for include rare Hector's dolphins, only found in coastal New Zealand waters, and pods of common and bottlenose dolphins - sometimes thousands strong.
Dolphins often swim alongside whale- watching vessels or leap in the waters nearby. It is also possible to swim with the dolphins on an organised tour.
Top itineraries in Kaikoura
A tip-to-toe tour of New Zealand, taking in the best of its landscapes and culture, and calling into filming locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
From the subtropical beaches of the Bay of Islands, the geothermal pools of Rotorua and wine lands of Hawke's Bay to the majestic glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef and the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, New Zealand is home to some of the world's most spectacular driving routes.
Discover the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand's north and south islands on this fly-drive holiday, which includes a journey across the Southern Alps aboard the iconic TranzAlpine Express.
Top places to stay in Kaikoura
Enjoy peace and tranqulity on the shores of the Pacific Ocean at Manakau Lodge, with luxurious accommodation, fine dining and award-winning local wines.
Cosy, comfortable and impeccably stylish, this bijoux jewel frames pretty ocean vistas with both heritage and contemporary charm.
Meet our Kaikoura experts
Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0614Meet the team