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Updated 8:37PM 18 November, 2018

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Albatross and Seabird Watching Tours

Get up-close with wildlife on vessels designed to give you the best viewing opportunities

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Albatross Encounter Tours

Within just a small area, you'll meet one of the greatest varieties of seabirds and pelagic birdlife you'll find anywhere in the world. Up to twelve species of albatross alone can be viewed at various times of the year. Kaikoura is renowned worldwide as a hotspot for this kind of thing, so the few people who get the chance to go out here really savour the experience.

Our tours are by boat, on vessels we've designed just for this purpose. We only take up to 13 people on each tour, so that you can get the best possible chance to see birds up close, without having to compete for viewing angles.

It's just a 15-minute ride out, during which you'll be treated to spectacular views of the stunning Kaikoura Coast. The whole tour is about 2.5 hours long, giving you plenty of opportunities to see the birds. We carry frozen 'chum' (fishy bits) on the boats that attracts the seabirds very close, offering wonderful opportunities for photography.

On-board identification guides, knowledgeable staff and a full species list and souvenir information pack will help you identify and learn more about the birds you see on your trip.

  • Tour Times

    Albatross Encounter tours operate all-year-round at 9.00am and 1.00pm each day. In the summer (November - April) we run an additional tour at 6.00am.

    Tours are about 2.5 hours in duration. They're by boat, so are subject to suitable sea conditions on the day and minimum passenger numbers.

    The standard tour provides fantastic viewing opportunities of the pelagic birds. Several albatross species are often seen on the tour.

    Check Tour Availability

  • Expertise

    You're in fantastic hands. Our skippers know their stuff and are keen to share their knowledge about all the seabirds you'll encounter. They can also cater the tour to what you and others on the boat want, making it a great choice for both the general wildlife enthusiast and the avid birder.

  • Wildlife You'll Encounter

    The biggest attraction is in the name: albatross. And on our tours, we encounter many species: the great albatross, the wanderings and royals, the smaller albatross (known as mollymawks in New Zealand), the shy (three species), black-browed (two species) and Buller's.

    But there's plenty of other amazing birdlife, too. We see two species of giant petrel and up to ten species of the smaller petrels. There are about seven species of shearwater including the endemic Hutton's shearwater, which nests in burrows in the Kaikoura Mountains.

    On top of that, you might also see two species of skua, the blue penguin and, of course, the gulls (three species). Three species of tern, various species of shag and the Australasian gannet can also be seen at various times of the year.

    And after all that, on the return to shore it's normal for us to see two or more species of waders to add that final touch to the tour. For a full species list visit our daily tour sighting reports

    About kaikoura Seabirds  

  • Children Joining the Tour

    Children aged 3 and over are able to participate on the Albatross Encounter tour when accompanied by an adult. However, the skipper may deem the weather and sea condition unsuitable for children to partake in the tour. Children under 3 years are not permitted on board.

  • Seasickness

    Sea sickness is often experienced and even in slight seas, some customers find themselves dealing with motion sickness. We recommend taking medication to combat this prior to your tour. We do sell Sea Legs and Ginger tablets at the check in counter if you have arrived unprepared.

General enthusiast, or avid birder - it's great for everyone!

No matter your level of knowledge or interest, you'll find something at which to marvel

Our skippers really know their stuff, so whether you're an avid birder or just a casual wildlife enthusiast, they'll give you the experience you want.

Because the ride out to the birds is a really short 15 minutes, there's plenty of time to cater the tour to what you and others on the boat would like. You'll see and learn what suits you - and maybe some things you didn't expect!

Looking for something special? Take a specialist birder tour

While our standard tours offer incredible viewing opportunities of a wide range of species, we know there are a lot of passionate birders like us out there.

That's why we offer an extended four-hour tour on request to maximise the chance of seeing a larger range of species, including some of the less-frequently sighted species further offshore.

The extended tours do require advance notice and a certain number of passengers, so please get in touch as early as possible to arrange.

What do others say about their encounter?

"Mind-blowing."
"Totally unforgettable."
"Bestest boat experience ever."
"The highlight of our whole trip to New Zealand."

When you encounter Kaikoura albatross, you will leave transformed. Share the experience.

Kaikoura Seabirds

The types of seabirds you can expect to see.

Learn More

Gallery

Photos and videos from previous tours!

Albatross Conservation

Protect our very special environment.

Fantastic Local Fare

Coffee and dining at our café, right on the waterfront

Key things to know before your tour

Check out our top tips before the adventure!

Learn More

Contact us for further details or to make a reservation

We recommend booking 4 weeks in advance

Standard Tour Pricing

$125*

Adult

15 years and upwards

$60*

Child

3 years to 14 years inclusive

Specialist Tour Pricing

$160*

Adult

15 years and upwards

$85*

Child

3 years to 14 years inclusive

* (Please note this pricing is valid to 30 September 2019)

Albatross Encounter Tours operate daily at 9.00am and 1.00pm (with an additional tour at 6.00am in the summer months of November – April). For everything you need to know about your tour click here.

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Caring for Our Natural Environment

Caring for Our Natural Environment

We are privileged to have the abundance of marine life here in Kaikoura and we don’t take this for granted. In 2009 we established the Encounter Foundation specifically to support organizations and groups that are actively working on projects that result in improving the health of the natural environment through conservation, education and research.

We donate a portion of each customer fare to the Encounter Foundation to support worthy projects which make an impact on ensuring our environment is preserved and treasured for future generations.

Thank you for enabling us to do this – your support of our business is making a difference in a very positive way.