As far as days out fishing on Whangārei Harbour go builder Scott Carter and his son Nathan reckon it couldn't have been much better with fresh scallops, two decent-sized snapper landed and a spectacular humpback whale display.

The duo spotted the humpback whale just outside Little Munro Bay on Whangārei Harbour just after midday on Saturday. It made its way out of the harbour entrance in spectacular fashion, breaching some 30 times, only about 10m away from boats anchored fishing in the harbour.

"I've never seen anything like that before. It was a special day out on the water," Carter said.

A builder from Whangārei, Carter said he had been fishing on the harbour since he was a teenager and it was his first close-up encounter with such a massive sea animal.

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However, when he first spotted the whale he thought it was a windsurfer having trouble getting his sail out of the water, as it kept hitting the water.

Using binoculars they established the whale was swimming on its side with its fin dropping and slapping the water.

The day on the briny began early with the father and son hitting the water about 5.45am, first collecting scallops and then landing two good-sized snapper.

"I've never seen anything like that before. It was a special day out on the water." - Scott Carter, fisherman. Photo / Scott Carter

Two dolphins swimming near Smugglers Cove added to the perfect day but they were soon to be outdone by a more spectacular sea creature display.

Carter said there were some 50 small boats anchored near the harbour entrance fishing when the whale swam underneath them and breached when it surfaced.

"It was only abut 10 metres from some of the boats and it was pretty spectacular."

He rang whale expert Ingrid Visser and sent her photos for her records. Carter said the whale put on a great show and looked like it was having fun.

It was last seen heading north.

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Just last Wednesday four pilot whales stranded at Ruakākā Beach and died.

They were part of a pod of 30 and there was some concern the rest of the pod may have tried to come ashore as they were seen swimming not far of the beach in shallow water for a few hours after the whales died.

Fortunately they headed south then out towards Little Barrier Island.

If you spot a stranded whale or dolphin call 0800 DOC HOT or if you spot orca of whales call Ingrid Visser 0800 See ORCA 0800 733 6722.