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Whale Watching with Kaikoura Aeroclub PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 December 2006

Today we went on an amazing scenic flight with the Kaikoura Aeroclub above the town of Kaikoura to look down on the majestic sperm whales from the sky.

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Kaikoura is about 180 km north of Christchurch, in the South island. It is a stunning little town with an impressive setting on a bay backed by the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains. Kaikoura's notoriety really took off in 1987 when whale-watching and dolphin-swimming tours began to attract visitors from all around the globe. If you happen to stop by Kaikoura for a day or two, you will most likely see marine animals, whatever activity you decide to go for as Kaikoura enjoys favourable currents and continental-shelf formation.

Among the wildlife that Kaikoura has to offer, the sperm whale certainly is the most impressive of all: it is known as the world's largest mamal with a nose about 5 metres long and one of the rarest animals that can be seen.

All sperm whales in the Kaikoura region are found to be young males attracted by the vast quantities of food. Females are usually found up north where the water is warmer.

Male whales are maximum 20m long and weight as much as 42,000kg.

The Kaikoura Aeroclub is the oldest one in Kaikoura, having been funded in 1990, some 16 years ago.

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Once our instructor James has gone through all the basic safety procedures, we are set to go for a breathtaking 30 minute-flight. After a few minutes of flying, James starts locating where the whale watching boats are, usually simply indicating where the whales are!

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The legislation is quite strict in New Zealand about whale watching and does not allow more than 3 vessels around one whale, that is 3 boats or 2 boats and one aircraft. Our plane can get as close as 500 feet to the whale and may climb up to 12,000 feet.

As opposed to the usually more popular whale watching cruise, the whale watching scenic flight allows us to see the whale in full and thus to appreciate more accurately how big and impressive it can get.

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If you are lucky enough you may come across a bunch of dolphins on the way as well.

The scenic flight is also the perfect occasion to get a unique view of the Kaikoura area from lots of different angles.

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The Kaikoura Aeroclub also offers an innovative activity called "Pilot a plane" (NZD100) where you litteraly become the pilot for 30 minutes. A profesionnal instructor is with you all the way and this activity does not require any previous flying experience.

All in all, the Kaikoura Aeroclub Whale watching flight was great and the staff really interesting. A must-do in Kaikoura!

Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 December 2006 )
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