by Tristan Rayner in Cool Travel on Tuesday 2 August 2011

When Kaikura in New Zealand suffered an economic downturn, the local Maori people looked to the cultural bond between the creatures of the deep and themselves to revitalise their economy and to give tourists an idea of the majesty of whales. These whales are in a truly special spot at Kaikura. The ocean floor drops some 1km down just a few hundred feet from shore, and the sea is a permanent home to sperm whales, as well as migrating right and humpback whales and a community of dolphins and seals.

The best way to explore the whales is to jump on a Wings over Whales experience, a short mad-dash flight over the sea to spot all the possibilities in the sea. Our pilot, Pete (wearing short-sleeves in the depths of a New Zealand winter), dived, banked and soared over four whales and a pod of dolphins in a blue-ribbon day for whale-spotting.

There’s also quite a view from the sky. The oxygenated water of Kaikura is a vibrant green, while the shores are a soft black sand. The white foam waves cresting onto the rich, dark shoreline with snow-crested mountains off in the distance is a stunning contrast of scenery that New Zealand seemingly offers up on a platter.
Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales