Five orca put on a spectacular show for Hardinge Rd and Westshore Beach strollers yesterday morning - at one stage coming within 20m of the shore.

The pod of one large male, two females and two juveniles were first seen heading past the port entrance toward Westshore just before 8am.

By 8.45am word had clearly got around via cellphone and social media and about 30 people were watching the aquatic antics from the Perfume Point parking area.

"I've heard about them coming into the bay before but I've never been lucky enough to see them, so this is great - they are beautiful," one woman said.


Her companion smiled and said it was a plus for Napier "as you have to pay to go and see whales in some places".

While the large male stayed about 500m out from the point, rolling and raising its large fins to splash the surface, the others came close to the shore. At one stage they headed into the inner harbour, surprising the crew of a returning fishing trawler.

A Ministry for Primary Industries officer who called by to check out the visitors, said he saw the pair clearly come across their intended meal.

"They are after rays," he said. "They were cruising up the channel side by side and they quickly turned and went for something - they saw something."

The orca also went close to shore, foraging for food just off East Pier and giving breakfast diners a rare treat.

The officer said orca were spotted off Te Awanga last Thursday, as well as off Napier Port on Saturday.

"So the chances are they may hang around."

Orca are migratory and head north every year.

"The mums are teaching the young ones how to catch the rays." For two distance swimmers, the arrival of the orca meant a 45-minute delay in their training swims between the coastal buoys off Hardinge Rd.

They trod water by the rocks off the point until the coast was clear.