The nutrient-rich seas found off the New Zealand coasts certainly do well to attract whales, which helps to make New Zealand whale watching an activity you might consider enjoying during your New Zealand vacation. Orcas, humpback whales and sperm whales are just some of the magnificent New Zealand whales that you can see when whale watching in this largely unspoiled land. While Kaikoura is without question the best destination for New Zealand whale watching, there are a few other spots you might try if you can't make it down to the South Island. Various New Zealand travel packages include whale watching, and it is certainly among the best tourist attractions in New Zealand. Besides the New Zealand whales, you can expect to see plenty of dolphins frolicking in the New Zealand waters. Some of the whale watching tours here offer the chance to swim with dolphins, which is a fun and unique experience all its own.
The town of Kaikoura, as mentioned, is the undisputed champion of New Zealand whale watching destinations. It's found on the South Island's east coast, and it's just over a 2-hour's drive from the city of Christchurch. The whales like to gather here a few miles off the coast to feed, and you can arrange a couple of different ways to see them. The most popular means of viewing the New Zealand whales found at Kaikoura is on a whale watching cruise. Since whale watching in Kaikoura is one of the more popular tourist attractions in New Zealand, you'll often find that these cruises fill up quickly, especially during the peak season. Also, they are dependent on good weather, so you'll want to pray for benign conditions. Though you can view whales year round at Kaikoura, the best time to see sperm whales is June and July, which are also the best months to spot humpback whales. Pilate whales and the occasional blue whale are also among the species that surface here. If you are short on time in Kaikoura, or are prone to seasickness, you might opt for the whale watching tours that are of the airborne variety. You can book a half-hour flight to get a bird's eye view of the sea below.
For those who want to enjoy whale watching in New Zealand but find themselves on the North Island, there are a view places where you can book tours. Auckland and the Bay of Islands are your two best bets up north, so you'll want to start there. An Auckland whale and dolphin tour to the breathtaking Hauraki Gulf is worth considering. You'll find one of the world's most diverse and unique marine parks here, with almost two dozen different whale and dolphin species. The chance to view whales and swim with dolphins at Hauraki Gulf is one of those travel memories you certainly don't forget. North of Auckland, at the Bay of Islands town of Paihia, you can arrange a myriad of fun tours, including whale watching ones. Should you venture further north, the city of Kaitaia might be where you will choose to seek out New Zealand whale watching tours. From Kaitaia, you can book a whale watching tour aboard a catamaran during the day, or choose an overnight one. The New Zealand summer months are the best time to spot orcas here, and they are among the most common species you'll see. The rich waters that you can visit at nearby Doubtless Bay and Cape Kari Kari attract other whale species as well, such as humpbacks. Your best chance to see whales with a Kaitaia tour is to book an overnight or full day one.
You might get lucky and spot a few New Zealand whales while enjoying a cruise at some of the country's other popular coastal destinations. The stunning Milford Sound offers cruises where you can see fur seals, dolphins and sealions, and from time to time, whales are spotted as well. If whale watching in New Zealand is the main aim of your trip, Christchurch is your city. Not only is Kaikoura close by, but you can also book an extensive tour package that covers more than one day. It includes all the best New Zealand places to view whales and dolphins. You can even arrange to enjoy the extended trip to Tonga, which also is a good whale watching destination. Whale enthusiasts visiting the New Zealand capital of Wellington won't want to miss the Museum of New Zealand-Te Papa Tongarewa, where among the many wonderful exhibits is a giant whale skeleton.