Spot whales throughout New Zealand waters all year round, including locations such as Auckland's beautiful Hauraki Gulf and the "whale tail" mecca Kaikoūra.

Where to go whale watching

Auckland is privileged to witness whales at play in the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Part of the Pacific Ocean, the Hauraki Gulf covers an area of 4000 km² surrounding the Auckland and Coromandel regions.

Auckland
Auckland Harbour, Auckland

The park is full of a diverse range of rare and exotic ocean life. For example, the critically endangered Bryde’s whale is one such species that can be found in the Hauraki Gulf.

Incredibly, over 25 of the 37 southern hemisphere marine mammals have been identified in the area, which makes up almost a third of the world’s population of these species.

Kaikoūra's sperm whales

Kaikoūra(opens in new window), on the east coast of the South Island, is one of the only places in the world where you can easily see sperm whales. By boat, helicopter, or fixed-wing aircraft, the choice is yours.

Christchurch - Canterbury
Whale watching, Christchurch - Canterbury

Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, grow to over 15 metres in length. They dive deep into the ocean to feed. The resident population of sperm whales at Kaikoura can be seen all year round.

Humpback whales can be seen in June and July, as they continue an annual migration to feed in tropical water after feeding in Antarctica. You may see their spectacular breaching and flukes (whale tails) in one of NZ's unique experiences.

Whales thrive close to Kaikoura because of its unusual submarine landscape. The continental shelf drops quickly into a number of extremely deep underwater canyons.

In addition, a warm current from the north meets a colder one from the south. This causes nutrients from deep within the ocean to be carried upward, a phenomenon that helps to support all types of marine life from plankton and krill to dolphins and whales.

Several dolphin species are seen almost daily in the area.

Orca pods

The largest of the dolphin family, Orca (killer whales) can be seen along New Zealand coastline.  There are 150-200 individuals in New Zealand's waters.

Christchurch - Canterbury
Whale tail, Christchurch - Canterbury

Pods of orca are known to venture into Wellington Harbour throughout spring and summer, where they hunt for stingrays.

They are also seen exploring the northern end of the harbour and the Kapiti Coast for stingrays, and around Waiheke Island.

Remember: Under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 it is an offence to swim within 100m of a whale. It is an offence to harass, disturb, injure, or kill marine mammals.

Find whale watching activities

You may also be interested in