Kaikoura is famous for its Albatross birds. Huge, majestic seabirds with wingspans that need to be seen to be believed.
Albatross Species in the Kaikoura region
From the Kaikoura Peninsula area, you can potentially spot these species of albatross:
- Shy Albatross
- Salvin’s Albatross
- Royal Albatross
- Wandering Albatross
Offshore from Kaikoura (including on the Albatross Encounter pelagic tour) you can have some spectacular Albatross sightings, including all four of the above species, plus:
- Buller’s Albatross
- Black-browed Albatross
- Yellow-nosed Albatross (rare; last seen in 2016)
- Chatham Albatross (rare; last seen in 2015)
- Grey-headed Albatross (rare; last seen in 2015)
More uncommon and rarely seen species in the region include:
- Sooty Albatross
- Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
- Grey-headed Albatross
Kaikoura Albatross Encounter
The most well known operator of Albatross encounters in Kaikoura is.. the Kaikoura Albatross Encounter.
There are two tour times each day all year round: 9am and 1pm.
From November to April there’s also an early bird tour at 6am, potentially providing the very best sightings first thing in the morning.
Their office can be found at 96 Esplanade.
The current cost if NZ$125 for adults and NZ$60 for children.
Besides Albatross, you’ll certainly see a bunch of other amazing seabird species like shearwaters and petrels.
Otago Peninsula Albatross
If you’re willing and able to travel beyond Kaikoura, heading to the Otago Peninsula will give you some more opportunities for Albatross spotting.
The colony of Royal Albatross at Tairoa Head is the most northern colony of this albatross species and more importantly the only mainland (not an external island) breeding spot for this species in the world.
The best time to visit this area to see Royal Albatross majestically flying around the cliffs is between December and March, with January and February being prime months.
During these months, the albatross are breeding. Many pairs will have a chick being guarded by one parent, while the other regularly brings in the food.
This provides some spectacular flight sightings of these magnificent seabirds and excellent photo opportunities for bird photographers.
If it’s a windy day, you’ll be in even better luck with these huge birds depending on the wind to aid their flight.
The only way you can access the wild and rugged Tairoa Head is with a guided tour for $50NZ for adults and $15NZ for children.
The albatross tour runs for one hour.
Royal Albatross Centre at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula