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Whale Watching with Wings Over Whales PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 December 2006

Today we went on a great scenic flight with the friendly Wings over Whales crew above the town of Kaikoura to look down on the majestous 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.

The town'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 that attract all sorts of wildlife.

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

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.

Before heading towards the aircraft, the Wings Over Whales crew takes the time to give us a bit more detail about the sperm whales and the reasons why the Kaikoura region has so many of them. We are also briefed about airplane safety procedures.

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Once on board, the real journey can begin. The view is breathtaking and while we contemplate the horizon, the instructor quickly locates a sperm whale. Our aircraft gets down to 500 feet and we then start circling around the whale to better appreciate its size. From that distance it is difficult to realise how big it is really until some
whale watching boats get closer to it.

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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 a maximum of 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.

The Wings over Whale flight was a really pleasant one with plenty of information about sperm whales as well as breathtaking views of the Kaikoura area and the whales themselves. We would definitely recommend it!

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 December 2006 )
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