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Updated 9:59PM 20 October, 2020


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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


We are currently operating tours 7 days a week on request whilst our operating base is closed for earthquake repairs.  When tours are requested they are made available to book online.  If you do not see a tour scheduled yet on the days you are planning to visit please email us at to request a departure, to book and for more information.

All tours are subject to minimum group size or a minimum operating fare.

We will resume a regular daily schedule from 1st September 2020 and daily departures are available to book online from this date.

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. Kaikoura is renowned worldwide as a birding hotspot, 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.

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 boat, sourced naturally from local commercial fishers, that helps to bring the birds in close allowing very close viewing and photographing opportunities. The discarded offal from the local fishing fleet helps provides a significant portion of the seabirds diet here in Kaikoura.

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 (commonly referred to as mollymawks in New Zealand), the Salvin's, white-capped, black-browed and Buller's.

    But there's plenty of other amazing birdlife, too. We can see up to 15 species of petrel, including two species of giant. There are about eight species of shearwater including the endemic Hutton's shearwater, which nests in burrows in the Kaikoura Mountains. Of course there can be those very special times when we are surprised by a visit of rarer visitors to the waters off Kaikoura.

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

    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, ginger tablets and hire out sea bands 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 to spend longer time on the water?

Our standard tours offer incredible viewing opportunities of a wide range of species, however for those wanting to spend longer on the water we offer an extended four-hour tour on request. Spending longer time on the water, just might increase the chances of seeing something different to our normal range of species.

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

What do others say about their encounter?

"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


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 click below to make an Albatross Encounter reservation

We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Standard Tour Pricing



15 years and upwards



3 years to 14 years inclusive

Specialist Tour Pricing



15 years and upwards



3 years to 14 years inclusive

* (Please note this pricing is valid to 30 September 2021)

Albatross Encounter Tours operate daily at 9.00am and 1.00pm. 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.