The most common whales we see in the Bay of Islands are the baleen whales, Brydes, humpbacks and Pilot whales. Some other species have been known to visit, but very rarely.

The Bay of Islands is not a whale watching hotspot, but sometimes we are super lucky and they visit.

Here are some we may see

Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni)

IUCN Status: Threatened, New Zealand Classification: Nationally Critical

There are less than 200 Bryde’s whale (pronounced ‘Brooders’) in New Zealand.

Cool Facts:

  • They can grow up to 15 metres in length and weigh up to 40 tonnes.
  • These whales are surface feeders and make for an incredible sight when seen sweeping through krill, plankton or ‘large boil-ups’ of fish.
  • Identified by three long ridges on the top of their heads, which is unique to only the Bryde’s whale.
  • One of only a few species of whale that do not migrate long distances.
  • Bryde’s spend the majority of their time in the top 10 metres of the water.
  • Bryde’s whales are vulnerable to many stressors and threats, including vessel strikes, ocean noise and whaling.

Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)

IUCN Status: Endangered

Humpback whales are easy to identify and are well known for their spectacular breaching and beautiful, complex songs.

Humpback Whale Facts:

  • They can grow to around 15 metres in length and weigh up to 30 tonnes.
  • Humpbacks migrates from the Antarctic, feeding grounds to the tropics to mate and give birth in winter. Covering over 8,000 kilometres or more.
  • Humpback Whales tend to feed within 50m of the water’s surface, taking krill and shoaling fish.
  • Humpbacks were one of the main target species for whalers all around the world,population were reduced by up to 95 per cent.
  • They have the longest pectoral fins of any whale.
  • Humpback whales are famous for breaching and showing their tails when they dive.