Albatross Encounter, Kaikoura

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Albatross Encounter, Kaikoura

Kaikoura is regarded as the seabird capital of the world and the reason for this is simple.  There are more seabird species to be found in the Kaikoura coastal waters than in any other location on the planet!  So along with the superb marine life found here including the whales, dolphins and seals, the birdlife is incredibly unique too!

The Albatross Encounter experience is a boat tour which has its focus firmly set on showing our customers the amazing number of albatross and other seabird species found here all year round.  We see can up to ten species of albatross as well as numerous other seabird species, including petrels, shearwaters, shags, terns, penguins and gulls. 

These species all occur naturally within a close proximity of the Kaikoura Peninsula which means the travel time to get out to the area to see the birds is very short.  This is quite different to many other pelagic tours around the world, where it is not unusual to travel for a few hours to get to the sea bird spotting areas.

Travel time of just 15 to 20 minutes from the Kaikoura Coast will bring you to the area where the birds are found. The birds come very close to the boat, so close you could almost touch them although it is not advisable to try!  Because you can see the birds at such close range, it is easy to distinguish the different species and the opportunity for superb photography is second to none.  The experienced guides on board are able to assist with identification of the birds and provide an educational and memorable commentary. Learning about the birdlife you see adds a valuable dimension to the experience.

Albatross Encounter Tours

Kaikoura’s vast offshore underwater canyon system, with its nutrient rich waters, is responsible for the variety of sea-life able to be viewed off Kaikoura. A short boat trip from shore will put you in view of a large variety of pelagic birds including albatross (up to ten species), shearwaters, petrels, penguins, gannets, skuas, terns and more.

The dedicated Albatross Encounter vessel has been adapted for maximum wildlife viewing opportunities and easy identification of the bird species. We limit capacity to just twelve passengers to provide an intimate tour and ensure close proximity to the birds. A full species list and souvenir information pack is provided to each customer at the conclusion of the tour.

Tour Times

Albatross Encounter tours operate in Summer at 6.00am, 9.00am and 1.00pm and in Winter at 9.00am and 1.00pm.  We operate every day except for Christmas Day which is the only day we are closed.

Tours are by boat and are usually approximately two and a half hours in duration. All our tours are subject to suitable sea conditions on the day and minimum passenger numbers.


Our skippers will provide interesting and detailed commentary about the seabird species encountered on the tour. Whether you are an avid bird watcher, a wildlife enthusiast or simply keen to see an albatross soaring above you, this tour will exceed your expectations. Fantastic photography opportunities are assured due to the close proximity to the birds.

Wildlife We Encounter

For many it is the species of albatross that are the biggest attraction. The great albatross, the wanderings and royals, then the smaller albatross (known as mollymawks in New Zealand), the shy (three species), black-browed (two species) and Buller's. 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.

Various other species can be seen including 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. On the return to shore it is normal 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.

Albatross Encounter Tour Prices

  From 1 Dec 2016



Child (age 3-14)


Half Day Tours Available on Request

Albatross Encounter, Kaikoura Enquiry Form


96 Esplanade

Phone: +64 3 319 6777

Freephone: within NZ: 0800 733 365


Web: Visit website

Albatross Encounter, Kaikoura Enquiry Form