Napier residents were excited by a visit from a family of orca on Sunday.

"They came into the Iron Pot (Scapa Flow) and just cruised around and then out again and came north along the Westshore beach front," Napier's Rick Kirkland said.

There might have been as many as four orca, he said.

"Definitely one mother with her calf.


"Interesting it was only one that cruised the beach front about five metres from shore while the others were 30m off shore in a pod. I guess the single orca was looking for an evening cookie (stingrays) in the sandy foreshore.

"They cruised right along the beach as far as Bay View then I lost them."

The pod was spotted in Ahuriri at about 7.30pm.

An orca captured on film by a drone at Ahuriri. Photo / Rick Kirkland.
An orca captured on film by a drone at Ahuriri. Photo / Rick Kirkland.

National Aquarium of New Zealand educator Jacque Wilton said sightings of orca near Napier were quite common around this time of year.

"They do migrate past us quite regularly throughout the year and they are probably feeding, coming in and eating stingray.

Wilton said while orca were considered the largest member of the dolphin family, they would not travel with dolphins as they would hunt and eat any dolphins.

"Orca are considered to be pretty much at the top of the food chain in the ocean because they hunt in packs and the fact that they work together as a team. They are pretty incredible animals."