Bird Life

Sea Bird launches in front of kayakers on a tour with Kaikoura Kayaks NZ

New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world with Kaikoura being the best introduction to some of the seabirds that make New Zealand’s oceans and islands their home.

Kaikoura’s best kept secret is it’s incredible diversity of pelagic (ocean going) birds, with up to twelve species of albatross able to seen throughout the year.

Kaikoura has one of the greatest numbers of different types of seabirds within a small area than anywhere along the New Zealand coastline.

One of the reasons for such a large number of different types of seabirds in this area is a deep water trench (the Kaikoura Canyon), close inshore. Upwellings of cold nutrient rich water over the shallower coastal waters produce and sustain a dynamic food chain supporting a large variety of fish species, marine mammals and seabirds which is probably the best and most accessible pelagic birdwatching in the world.

Wandering, northern royal and southern royal albatross can be seen here, as well as many of the smaller albatrosses, including black-browed, Campbell, white-capped, Salvin’s, Chatham Island and Buller’s. A great albatross in flight against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains is always a memorable sight.

Kaikoura is also the best place to see Hutton’s shearwaters, because although they disperse around northern NZ waters and across the Tasman to Australia, they breed nowhere else on Earth.

From spring through to autumn, Hutton’s shearwaters feed in the waters around the Kaikoura Peninsula, and breed high in the Seaward Kaikoura mountains.

Often on our kayaking tours you can see large rafts of them on the water, preparing for a day at sea after flying down from their alpine colony or flying past in endless streams at other times. They also gather in thousands on the water close to shore in the evening, waiting to return to their colonies under cover of darkness.

Several other species of shearwaters are commonly seen, as well as prions, many petrels and other seabirds like little penguins, Australasian gannets, white-fronted and Caspian terns, and all three native species of gull.

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  • Address:Kaikoura Kayaks
    19 Killarney Street
    Kaikoura
    New Zealand

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