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Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch

Christchurch, New Zealand
Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch

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Free cancellation
Up to 7 days in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon11 hours  (Approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds


Experience the natural treasures of New Zealand on a Kaikoura whale-watching cruise. Look for impressive sperm whales along with migrating humpbacks and southern right whales, and search the waters for orcas and other dolphins as an experienced guide shares informative commentary. Visit a New Zealand fur seal colony on land, glimpse the snowy peaks of the Kaikoura Ranges and top off your full-day tour with a wine-tasting in North Canterbury. Includes optional lunch, with round-trip hotel transport from Christchurch to the picturesque town of Kaikoura.
  • Full-day tour with whale-watching cruise in Kaikoura, from Christchurch
  • Marvel at the scenery as you drive through North Canterbury's gorgeous countryside
  • Take a whale-watching cruise with expert guides to look for sperm whales, dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and seabirds
  • Learn about the marine mammals of Kaikoura and the town’s whaling industry history from your knowledgeable guide
  • Observe a fur seal colony on the shore near Kaikoura
  • Relax with an afternoon wine tasting at a North Canterbury vineyard
  • Includes pickup and drop off from centrally located Christchurch hotels
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Air-conditioned vehicle
Live commentary on board
Whale watching tour by boat
Lunch (if option is selected)
Fur seal colony viewing
North Canterbury vineyard visit and wine tasting (time permitting)

Departure Point

Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

We will advise the pick up location if you are staying in an AirBnb or a private property.

Departure Time

7:00 AM

Return Details

Returns to original departure point
Following hotel pickup in Christchurch, settle in for a comfortable 2.5-hour scenic drive by coach. You’ll drive through the North Canterbury region of the North Island to Kaikoura, New Zealand’s prime whale-watching locale.

Climb aboard your boat and meet expert guides who explain the town’s whaling history and point out the area’s abundant marine life throughout your Kaikoura whale-watching cruise. 

Hikurangi Trench, located not far offshore, creates an upwelling that draws the showstopper attraction — mighty sperm whales, who ply Kaikoura’s waters year-round — as well as migrating blue whales, pilot whales, humpback whales and southern right whales, depending on the season. Be prepared to watch the whales spout, breach and slap their large tails on the water. Keep an eye out for orcas as well as Hector’s dolphins, the world's smallest and rarest dolphins.

Kaikoura boasts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on New Zealand’s mainland, including seven types of shearwaters, 13 species of albatross and 14 varieties of petrels.

Sate your appetite with lunch at a local restaurant (if option selected) or purchase your own meal. Relax with views of the imposing snow-capped peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura Range. 

Then re-board the coach to witness New Zealand fur seals at a nearby colony. Stop for wine tasting at a North Canterbury vineyard en route to Christchurch, where your tour ends in the evening when your guide returns you to your hotel.
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Minimum numbers apply. There is a possibility of cancellation after confirmation, if there are not enough passengers to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be offered an alternative or full refund.
  • Please note, infants under 3 years of age may not join the cruises but may travel on the light aircraft tours
  • Once the tour has commenced only the unused portion of the tour will be refunded should the boats not sail or the planes not fly.
  • If due to whale sightings or weather conditions the boat offers a partial refund, this refund will be passed on to our customers.
  • If whale watch is undertaken by light aircraft and no whales are seen, no refund applies.
  • A decision is made at 6:30am each day, based on local weather conditions, as to whether the tour will depart Christchurch or be canceled. If the tour is cancelled, clients are notified by 7:15am and no cancellation fees are charged. If the tour travels to Kaikoura and the whale watch cruises are canceled, whale watch plane tours are offered as an alternative. If clients do not wish to fly, or the plane tours are also canceled, a cash refund of NZD 120.00 per adult is given. Refund is issued on the day of the tour by the tour operator in Christchurch.
  • As the wineries close at 5pm daily and on selected public holidays, a stop may not be possible. On these occasions no refund is applicable.
  • Currently, the tour cost has been discounted by $15.00 per a person. Due to road conditions following the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016 it may not be possible on all occasions to include a winery due to the wineries closing times.
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Infant seats available
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 20 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Leisure Tours
You can cancel up to 7 days in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 7 full days before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 2 full days before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 2 full days before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Any changes made less than 6 full days before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • For a 50% refund, you must cancel 3–6 full days before the experience’s start time.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

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55 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 55 reviews
A lovely informative trip
, Mar 2020
We were fortunate enough to have Janet, our driver, to ourselves, so we had a very informative trip to & from Kaikoura. It was a little worrying to see, on arriving at the whale watch station, that our trip had “a high risk of seasickness”!! We bought a capsule to assist with this at the gift shop. Jordan, our narrator on the boat, also gave us some tips to avoid sickness & it worked! We did not see any whales, unfortunately, but a refund is given in this scenario. Nevertheless Jordan told us so much about whales & was very entertaining with it. On the way back we stopped at a winery for a wine tasting, which ended a lovely day
icon Response from Host , Aug 2020
Great to hear you had a great trip and that Janet provided you with an informative and enjoyable day. I do hope you do have the opportunity to visit New Zealand again on some future occasion.
, Feb 2020
We managed to see two sperm whales which was amazing. That for me was the highlight. A little bit disappointed that we didn’t get to visit the vineyard and wine tasting which was due to taking two other people on a dolphin excursion. They didn’t go until the whale watchers had returned! So a lot of unnecessary hanging about and the reason why we didn’t get to do the vineyard. My message would be to the tour company if you cannot guarantee the itinerary then you shouldn’t be including it.
icon Response from Host , Feb 2020
Thanks for the review, Tania. I'm glad you enjoyed your Kaikoura Whale Watch and got to see two Sperm Whales, which is an always an incredible sight to be seen. With regards to your comments about the winery, please note that the Waipara Region wineries close at 5.00pm and that, though we do our best to get there most days, we occasionally have to miss the winery visit as there isn't enough time. This was unfortunately the case on the day that you travelled (the dolphin swimmers had to do the afternoon swim due to morning sea conditions). We have written throughout the description of this tour and on your itinerary that the winery visit is only available when time is permitted and that we do not guarantee a visit. Thanks again and I hope you get to visit Kaikoura again soon.
Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch
, Oct 2019
It was a lucky day ! We saw 2 humpback whales, royal albatross, a lonely Hector's dolphin and a dusky dolphin pod during the cruise. While walking around the cliff, we got really close to fur seals and seagulls. Our guide also shared a lot of information about this tour and New Zealand.
icon Response from Host , Oct 2019
Thanks for the positive review! It sounds like it was a great day to be Whale Watching in Kaikoura. You were quite lucky to see a couple of Humpback Whales, as they're usually only seasonal visitors to the Kaikoura coastline. With that that said, some of the best time to see them is between October/November as they make their way from the tropics to Antarctica for the summer months. It's also great to hear that our driver was able to provide some informative commentary during your tour. Thanks again for the kind words and I hope you visit NZ again soon!
Could have been better
, Nov 2018
The weather wasn’t good, so halfway through the journey to Kaikoura, we were informed that the boat tour was cancelled but we were booked on a flight tour. We didn’t see a whale, but nonetheless we saw some dolphins and the scenery was beautiful. Maybe due to bad weather, we didn’t get a chance to stop and see seals too. Overall, a bit disappointed.
Lack of information
, Nov 2018
Half way through our journey we were told that since the weather was bad our two children wouldn’t be allowed
Good experience!
, Nov 2018
Booked the tour 2 nights before and the booking was easy and smooth. Wished for more information shared during the drive and more time for lunch and walk at Kaikoura town. The whale watching tour was good, just be prepared that the encounter with whale and dolphins depends on luck.
What an exciting day with breath taking...
Ann-Marie C
, Mar 2018
What an exciting day with breath taking whale sightings!
We had a great day. We were very...
Patti H
, Mar 2018
We had a great day. We were very fortunate with the weather and we managed to see four sperm whales, albatross and lots of dusky dolphins. Our driver Sue was wonderful, helpful and informative. Our advice: do not book the lunch. It was extremely rushed compared to our wonderful lunch at Akaroa.
We did this trip from Christchurch...
Alan R
, Mar 2018
We did this trip from Christchurch instead of driving down from Nelson due to the delays on the roads. The coach was great and took us directly to the ticket office. After obtaining the pre-ordered tickets and a short safety video a coach took us to the quayside. It was a fairly calm day and the boat took us to see the dolphins first - there must have been 200 ahead of us just playing and doing flips. We ended up alongside many of them so photo opportunities for photos was ideal. After that we saw 3 whales during the trip, the same one twice. They didn't come as close to the boat as I had expected but we did see them from about 50m. During the trip we also saw several albatross as they flew around the boat. A great day out.
It was wonderful when you saw the...
Zheng X
, Jan 2018
It was wonderful when you saw the whale. But if you are seasick, it was hard time in the bumpy boat

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