3 Top Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours in Kaikoura in 2024

It’s time for us to look at the three best and most established whale and dolphin watching tour companies in Kaikoura to take you out on the water or up in the air in 2024 to see whales, dolphins and seabirds!

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale watching boat in Kaikoura
image credit: denisbin

The largest and most established company, they boast a 95% success rate in spotting sperm whales (their specialty) year-round.

They offer boat tours, including VIP cabins and eco-friendly options.

Here’s a glimpse into what Whale Watch Kaikoura has to offer:

Tour Types

Classic Whale Watch Tour
The original and beloved experience aboard their spacious catamarans, perfect for families and first-timers. Choose between Ocean Cabin (standard) or VIP Captain’s Cabin (premium) seating.

Dolphin Watch Tour
Get up close and personal with playful dolphins like Hector’s and dusky dolphins in smaller, maneuverable boats. This tour also offers stunning coastal scenery.

Whale Watch & Swim with Dolphins
Combine the thrill of whale watching with an unforgettable dolphin encounter during this seasonal (Nov-May) tour. Swim alongside playful dolphins in their natural habitat (strict regulations and guidelines apply).

Scenic Marine Reserve Cruise
Explore the Kaikoura Marine Reserve and learn about its diverse marine life, including albatrosses, seals, and other whales. Relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery on this informative cruise.

Private Charters
Tailor-make your whale watching experience for groups or special occasions with a private charter aboard one of their catamarans. Customize the itinerary and enjoy a personalized adventure.

Additional Services

Educational talks and presentations
Learn about whales, dolphins, and the Kaikoura marine environment from experienced marine biologists on board the tours.

Underwater viewing pods
Get an underwater perspective of the whales and marine life from special viewing pods on some catamarans.

Gift vouchers
Treat someone special to an unforgettable whale watching experience with a Whale Watch Kaikoura gift voucher.

Accommodation packages
Enjoy convenient whale watching and accommodation packages with partner hotels and motels in Kaikoura.

Guarantees and Commitments

80% refund guarantee
If you don’t see any whales on your Classic Whale Watch Tour, you’ll get an 80% refund (conditions apply).

Whale Watch Kaikoura is committed to responsible whale watching, using eco-friendly boats and minimizing their impact on the marine environment.

Accessible toilets and seating on most vessels, and can assist passengers with mobility limitations.

Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura

Specializes in smaller boat tours focused on seeing dolphins, including Hector’s dolphins and dusky dolphins. They also offer swimming with dolphins experiences in season.

Wings Over Whales

Offers a unique perspective with scenic helicopter tours, allowing you to see whales and albatrosses from above. Ideal for breathtaking views and spotting elusive species.

When deciding which company is best for the kind of experiences you want in Kaikoura, consider these factors before booking:

Species you want to see: Different companies focus on different whales and dolphins.

Budget: Prices can vary depending on the type of tour, boat size, and extras offered.

Group size: Some companies cater to larger groups, while others offer smaller, more intimate experiences.

Your preferences: Do you prefer a high-speed boat or a calmer cruise? Are you interested in swimming with dolphins?

More whale watching options in Kaikoura

But don’t worry – you have other options for whale, dolpin, seabird and general wildlife on the water or by air tours if the above are booked out or outside your budget.

We also love these providers and can wholeheartedly recommend them all. Each provides quite a unique experience and if your time and budget allows, taking a tour with more than one company can really round out your wildlife spotting opportunities in Kaikoura.

Albatross Encounter

Combines whale watching with wildlife cruises and birdwatching tours, perfect for nature enthusiasts.

Kaikoura Helicopters

Another helicopter option offering whale watching trips with stunning aerial views of the Kaikoura coast.

Ocean Wings Air Safaris

Provides whale watching, wildlife spotting, and scenic flights in fixed-wing planes, covering a wider area at faster speeds.