A visiting whale has given Wellington commuters a special trip to work this morning, frolicking in the harbour as ferry passengers watched.

The rare southern right whale was first spotted in Wellington Harbour on Tuesday, and reappeared today, to the delight of those on their way to work.

However, the visiting whale may cause this weekend's Matariki fireworks display to be cancelled.

Simon Woolf snapped this photo of the whale. Photo / Woolf Photography
Simon Woolf snapped this photo of the whale. Photo / Woolf Photography

Wellington City Council is seeking advice from experts about whether it should still hold Saturday night's fireworks show, given a southern right whale has made the harbour its home this week.


Concerned locals have been discussing the issue on Facebook, and one poll shows 83 per cent of respondents would support postponing or even cancelling the fireworks because of the whale.

"We're not whale experts so we don't know whether the fireworks are going to affect the whale," said council spokesman Richard MacLean.

"That's why we're talking to DoC today, also Niwa."

People on social media were worried the noise from the fireworks would scare the whale, he said.

Rare southern right whale spotted in Wellington Harbour

The fireworks display is part of the city's Matariki ki Pōneke celebrations, which have been running since mid June.

A warning will also be released asking people to "stop harassing the whale", MacLean said.

"It's being followed around the harbour by a flotilla of boats."


Kayakers and paddleboarders were also trying to get a glimpse of the whale, but some observers were getting too close.

"The way it's coming out of the water obviously makes it a clear and present danger to anyone."

The rare whale was first spotted in the harbour on Tuesday, and has been delighting locals.

Councillor and wildlife photographer Simon Woolf captured a stunning photo of the whale breaching in front of the Beehive as he tried to take a panorama shot of the city.

"I've never seen anything like that. That whale is having just the greatest time. They wouldn't be doing that sort of breaching if they weren't having fun," he said.

"It stopped Wellington. There are people right around the waterfront still.

People are saying that they can't believe how happy it's made them to have a whale in the harbour. People are so, so happy. It's in the middle of winter ... to have such a beautiful creature in the harbour, it's given us a real lift."

A photo taken by Wellington City Council media specialist Sean Gillespie shows the whale jumping out of the water near the East by West ferry.

East by West office manager Coralie Christian said the whale "started putting on its show".

Commuters disembarking the ferry were thanking the crew "and saying how amazing it was", she said.

The harbourmaster told staff about the whale on Tuesday, but hadn't seen it on the ferry trips until today.

Boaties keen to get a glimpse are being asked to keep their distance.

Harbourmaster Grant Nalder said on Tuesday they were making sure all vessels on the water were aware of the whale's presence.

"The advice is to keep clear and give the whale some space."

Niwa marine ecologist Kim Goetz said they had also recorded sounds recently that are thought to be from southern right whales.

She saidvarious signs have pointed to southern right whales returning to the area.

Delighted Wellingtonians have been posting their photos and videos of the whale on social media.