A sperm whale has been spotted in the Hauraki Gulf - a rare sighting for boaties.

Rob Pine, a wildlife photographer from Auckland, captured the encounter yesterday afternoon.

Pine spotted the whale around 2pm aboard Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari boat Dolphin Explorer.

"I thought, 'Wow'. I think they are the most amazing creatures on the planet."

The whale was sighted about 2pm from an Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari boat. Photo / Rob Pine
The whale was sighted about 2pm from an Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari boat. Photo / Rob Pine

Dr Rochelle Constantine, mammal scientist from the University of Auckland, said she thought it was unusual but not uncommon for a sperm whale to be in the Hauraki Gulf.

"They usually favour deeper waters, but they could just be passing through the area."

"The Hauraki Gulf is only 50-70 metres deep, sperm whales are usually found in deeper waters."

Sperm whales are the largest toothed whale in the world with males growing up to 20 metres in length and females up to 12 metres.

Pine said he has been photographing wildlife for two years but yesterday was special.

Skipper Andy Light said in his 15 years of daily trips out into the gulf, he had never seen a sperm whale.

According to the Department of Conservation, sperm whales usually prefer regions of deeper water around New Zealand and can be found in Kaikoura all year round.

Diving deeper than 1000 metres, they feed mainly on squid but males are known to also eat demersal fish including sharks and rays.

Quick facts

• The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales and can grow to be as long as 20m.

• They also have the largest brain of any animal known to exist.

• To assist with swimming, sperm whales have small, paddle-shaped fins used for steering in the water.

• Sperm whales have been recorded searching for food at depths of up to 1000m.

• The sperm whale's clicking sounds are one of the loudest known sounds of all animal communication.

• A lifespan of a healthy sperm whale is often more than 70 years.