First orca now humpbacks. Hawke Bay has been an enticing destination for two different pods of whales the past two days.

The world's largest mammals drew excitement among locals as they were seen close to the shore on two different occasions.

On Sunday two orca were seen off the coast near Ahuriri.

A local family even bundled into the car to follow the whales around the Bay as they swam to Westshore and further on to Bay View.


Stunning some locals, yesterday, a second pod of whales swam into Napier Port.

Residents stood atop Bluff Hill to catch a glimpse and many shared their sightings on Facebook.

Locals commented on the "variety of sea life lately" and said it was "a magic time" for those that could see them.

Napier Port worker, Tony des Landes, who captured the shot (pictured), said he had gone to photograph a ship.

"I heard a burst of water and looked down and couldn't believe what I was seeing."

Some debated the breed of this second pod, which Otago University professor Ewan Fordyce was able to clear up.

Mr Fordyce said the pod on Sunday were orca but yesterday's sightings were a rorqual whale - one of the filter-feeding baleen whales. "That is the group that includes minke whale and bryde's whale."

The colour patterns which would further identify the species remained hidden with photos only showing the top section of the whale above the water.

Department of Conservation Hawke's Bay operations manager Dave Carlton said it was not common, but not necessarily unusual either, to see pods of whales off the coast.

The pod on Sunday was seen quite close to shore and Mr Carlton said the beach was steeply sloped so they were possibly herding fish together to eat.

He said whales often went where there was food and Mr Fordyce agreed, saying generally whales did choose to forage closely into the shore.

The operations manager said it was not due to breeding or water temperature or any sort of cycle but purely food that would have brought them into the Bay.

He said it was important for people in boats nearby to keep a decent distance from them.

"Just give them a bit of respect."

Encyclopedia Britannica states male orca usually grow to more than eight metres and weigh about four-tonne.

Female orca reach about seven metres and weigh less.

It is the largest member of the dolphin family and has the largest brain of all of them.

Rorqual whales are often referred to as humpback whales.

They are distinguished by grooves that extend from the chin and lower jaw down the throat to the belly.

Earlier this month, an orca pod of one large male, two females and two juveniles were seen coming close to shore at Westshore Beach.