Whale watching is big business in Kaikoura and you have the option of either taking a whale watching cruise or spotting them from a plane or helicopter.
Sperm and humpback whales can be seen during June and July, but orcas are more prevalent during summer.
Whale watching cruises
Whale Watch Kaikoura have been running whale watching tours since 1990. The whale watching cruises give you around 2½ hours on the water and you also have the opportunity to see dolphins, seals and albatross.
Cruises cost $150 and they offer an 80% discount if you do not see a whale.
Whale watching flights
Scenic flights allow you to see whales and other marine life from the air. There are several Kaikoura-based companies that offer scenic whale-watching flights by both helicopter and fixed-wing plane.
Air Kaikoura and Wings over Whales operate fixed-wing aircraft departing from Kaikoura Airport, 8km south of the town centre. Whale watching flights take 30-minutes and cost $165 with Air Kaikoura and $180 with Wings over Whales.
Kaikoura Helicopters and South Pacific Helicopters operate helicopter flights from Kaikoura. Kaikoura Helicopters run 30-minute flights for $220, 40-minute flights for $265, 50-minute flights for $295 and 60-minute flights (which also take you over the nearby mountain range with a snow landing on Mount Fyffe) for $330. Prices are higher if there are only a couple of passengers on board. South Pacific Helicopters run 30-minute flights for $350, 50-minute flights for $550 and one-hour flights for $650.