Maritime & Shipping Awards 2017

, 1702WF08 Most Sustainable Eco- Tourism Company - New Zealand WhaleWatch is amultiple award winning nature TourismCompany owned and operated by the indigenous Kati Kuri people of Kaikoura, aMaori sub-tribe of the South Island’s larger Ngai Tahu Tribe. Whale Watch was formed in 1987 at a time when Maori were casualties of Kaikoura’s declining economy. At this time of difficulty, Kati Kuri leaders like Bill Solomon believed the local Sperm Whales held the answer to the unemployment problems of the Maori community. They knew their ancestor Paikea had journeyed to a new life in New Zealand on the back of the whale Tohora. It seemed appropriate for Paikea’s descendants to again ride on the back of the whale to a new life. To achieve this, the Kati Kuri founders of Whale Watch mortgaged their houses to secure a loan to start the business. In the early day’s passengers travelled aboard a small inflatable vessel. In time, the inflatable was replaced by a larger boat with an upper viewing deck - the Uruao - until today the Whale Watch fleet numbers four modern catamarans each specially designed for whale watching. Due to the phenomenal success of Whale Watch, Kaikoura is now one of New Zealand’s leading tourism experiences’ offering a diverse range of exciting marine wildlife encounters. The company has stimulated investment in new accommodation, restaurants and an impressive array of cafes and galleries filled with the work of local artists. Paikea and Tohora still form the symbolic centre of Whale Watch. They represent the spiritual bond between the human world and the natural world and speak of the possibilities that reveal themselves when the world of nature is revered rather than exploited. Whale Watch Kaikoura is New Zealand’s only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale at all times of the year. A typical Whale Watch tour may also encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikoura often hosts the world’s largest dolphin - the Orca - and is home to the world’s smallest and rarest - the Hector’s. Our 95% success rate means we guarantee an 80% refund if your tour does not see a whale. Whale Watch is committed to providing a quality whale watching experience while carefully managing the use of a rare natural resource. The firm view themselves as visitors to the world of the whales and respect it as such at all times. As a Maori-owned company, Whale Watch cherishes the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world. It is a philosophy that embraces people, the land, the sea and all living things as one. Designed for whale watching, the company’s modern catamarans are equipped with engines that minimise underwater noise and toilets that never pollute the sea. The main passenger cabin is enclosed and large outside decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities. Spacious air-conditioned interiors are fitted with comfortable seating while large plasma screens display our award-winning marine wildlife animations. Kaikoura’s environment is truly spectacular, there are not many places in the world where the mountains are so close to the sea. Visitors come from near and far to see these breath taking views along with the abundant marine life that frequent these waters. Many who visit leave transformed. Kaikoura is a special part of New Zealand, a place where tectonic plates collide, towering peaks fall into the sea and ocean currents converge. Pre-earthquake we were gearing up for the busiest summer season yet with forward bookings strong and the outlook bright. Post-earthquake we are under a new kind of normal, due to the sea floor rising along the Kaikoura coastline extensive work is being done on the Kaikoura Marina to bring it back to its pre-earthquake state, this has led us returning to the days of old and using a trailer to bring their boat in and out of the water between tours. Our capacity is reduced for now but as work moves forward and the completion set for mid-year we are hopeful of being able to increase our fleet again and welcome many more visitors to our town and in turn on our tours. Ultimately there is still a long road ahead to bring visitors numbers back to what they were pre-earthquake but if the past is anything to go by and with our resilient attitude Whale Watch Kaikoura will come out the other side stronger and even more determined to the Number 1 whale watching company in the world. Company: Whale Watch Kaikoura Contact: Lisa Bond Contact Email: lisab@ Address: The Whaleway Station Whaleway Road, Kaikoura, 7340, New Zealand Phone: 0064 3 319 7721 Website: