Orca - Killer Whales

Orca Whales in Kaikoura

Despite its confusing name, the killer whale is the largest member of the dolphin family.

The killer whale/orca (Orcinus orca) is well known and can be identified relatively easily by its distinctive black and white markings and very tall, prominent dorsal fin.

They are known to hunt other marine mammals, hunting like wolves. Orca’s eat small fish, deep-sea shrimps, cuttlefish and even small dolphins to blue whales.

Orca have the second largest brain of all marine mammals, second only to the sperm whale which is known to have the largest brain of any living animal.

They can grow up to 9 m in length, with male dorsal fins reaching higher than a metre. Orca flippers are large and paddle-shaped and overall the body is robust.

They are acrobatic and are commonly seen breaching and flipper-slapping. Females and males differ in that males are longer and bulkier than females and females have smaller, more curved dorsal fins, and smaller flippers.

The females give birth to their first calf between 11 and 16 years of age and tend to do so every five years for their 25-year reproductive life span. The gestation period is 15-18 months and calves are nursed for at least one year.

Females are known to live up to 80 or 90 years.

Males reach physical maturity at about 21 years and live for a maximum of 50-60 years.

Orcas are commonly spotted in Kaikoura during the warmer months of September though to April and then intermittently throughout the year.

Kaikoura Kayaks is the only kayaking operator permitted by the Department of Conservation to view these incredible mammal’s around the coastline of Kaikoura.

For kayakers lucky enough to encounter orcas's on tour it is a very magical experience and a true highlight of their travels in New Zealand.

Due to their unpredictability, we can never tell when we are going to see them, so they are very much a chance encounter on our kayak tours.

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You will need!

Long sleeved thermal top, Fleece, shorts or light pants e.g. quick drys, NO JEANS!
Sunglasses, cap, running shoes or sandals, drinking water, camera & towel.

If you have purchased a voucher then it is valid for 24 months from the date of the original purchase. To redeem the voucher, you need to book in advance by calling us on 0800 452 456 or by emailing paddle@kaikourakayaks.nz. You must also present this email with the confirmation number when prompted.

All kayaking tours depart from our base 19 Killarney Street Kaikoura off the water front "the Esplanade", 1 km from the Kaikoura Information Centre.

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  • Address:Kaikoura Kayaks
    19 Killarney Street
    New Zealand

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