This Herald Travel series focuses on Māori-owned and operated tourism businesses around the country, showcasing who they are, what they do, and what they have to offer Kiwi travellers.
Lisa Bond: Marketing and Sales Manager, Whale Watch Kaikōura
Why should Kiwis choose to do a tour with Whale Watch Kaikōura?
We are New Zealand's only marine-based whale-watching company offering an exciting up-close encounter with giant sperm whale in their natural environment at all times of the year. And the bonus is that at this time of the year, we also have snow-capped mountains towering in the background, which makes for a stunning view from out at sea.
What can guests expect on a tour with you?
Every Whale Watch tour by boat is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant sperm whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins and the endangered wandering albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. Kaikōura often hosts orca - and is home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hector's dolphin. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand, including 13 species of albatross, 14 varieties of petrels and 7 types of shearwater. If your Whale Watch Kaikōura tour does not see a whale, we will refund 80 per cent of your fare.
How do your tours celebrate te ao Māori?
We start our tour with a mihi, an introduction to our place. Throughout the tour we like to introduce our manuhiri [visitors] to the Māori names of what species of marine life we are viewing as well as introduce them to the waka they are travelling on and why that specific waka is given the name it has. When and where time allows on the tour, our guides take time to share history of company, ancestors and of Kaikōura as a whole.
Whale Watch is committed to providing a quality whale-watching experience while carefully managing the use of a rare natural resource. As a Māori-owned company, Whale Watch cherishes the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world. It is a philosophy that embraces people, the land, the sea and all living things as one.
What do you love most about your job?
Each day is different, we never know what we are going to see from one tour to the next, which is what makes what we do so special. We love what we do and being able to enter into that experience with our manuhiri is incredibly special. We literally get to make people's dreams of seeing a whale in their natural environment come true, so incredibly special.
What are some of your other favourite things to see and do within Kaikōura?
Walking on the Kaikōura Peninsula, the 360-degree views are spectacular, taking in the mountains and the sea as you do so. The Kaikōura museum also is a treasure trove of information highlighting our November 2016 earthquake story in an excellent exhibition. And then there is, of course, taking time to sit on the beach and enjoy some local fish 'n' chips, definitely a must when passing through beautiful Kaikōura.