Whale flights - the best way to see natural whale behaviour

See whales from above doing things they wouldn't normally do with a boat present.

Tours to view the magificent sperm whales feeding off the Kaikoura coast of New Zealands South Island (Te Wai Pounamu) started in 1990 by boat and very quickly a new industry evolved to include aircraft as a viewing platform.

This unique attraction was made possible by the regulatory framework established by New Zealand;s Department of Conservation;s Marine Mammals Protection Act allowing boats and aircraft to work closely together and protecting the marine mammals that are so special to the area. Included in the regulations were seals, dolphins and whales.

Viewing whales from above seems to be a New Zealand only attraction. Enquiries internationally seem to have restrictions that do not allow flights over marine mammals. This is puzzling as the research carried out by various scientists and interest groups have proven the whale is not in the slightest bit effected by the presence of aircraft including helicopters.

Studies monitor the whales' breathing rate, time on the surface, with and without aircraft presence as well as noise penetration at the whales listening level below the surface. Observations over the last 22 years from the operator Wings over Whales have shown the whales doing "natural things" that they would not normally do with a boat present. These include spy hopping, breaching, rolling over, and showing agression with other whales, to name a few.

The spectacular area that is the feeding ground of the sperm whales is the Kaikoura Canyon over 1000 m deep. The canyon is mirrored by the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range only 10 km from the coast and towering to 3000 m snow capped for most of the year. 

The whales are the main attraction but the surrounding mountains and coast just add to the flight experience.

Wings over Whales is looking forward to a further 22 years of taking visitors to view the special whales.

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