Whale watch

00:08, Mar 26 2013
orca pod
The orca pod at Mapua Wharf
orca pod
One of the whales approaches stand-up paddleboarder Graeme Bird before passing underneath him.
orca pod
The orcas swim close to shore at Mapua Wharf.

A kite-surfer near Nelson's historic lighthouse, a camera-wielding Mapua man, and a standup paddle boarder at The Glen have experienced the magic of a pod of orcas firsthand.

Mapua man Paul Nankivell's friends in Ruby Bay called him early yesterday, saying a pod of orcas was in front of their seaside home.

"I raced off down there, but they had disappeared. The tide was still coming in, so we went around to the Mapua wharf. There they were - a pod of about six, including some young ones. They swam up inside the new floater and around the wharf, before heading up to Grossi Point," he said.

Shane Anderson
SPECIAL OCCASION: Shane Anderson, of Kite Surf Nelson, photographs himself with the orcas.

Mr Nankivell said they chased stingrays, before returning back down the channel and out into the bay.

Kite Surf Nelson owner and manager Shane Anderson was standup paddle boarding about midmorning, when he came across the orcas on the outside of the Boulder Bank near the lighthouse.

"It was a bit scary, but very exciting. They definitely came over to check me out. They come in every summer, and I have kite-surfed with them in the past. There was a group ahead of me, and they were going really fast. It was hard work keeping up with them," he said.


The orcas then went on to The Glen, where Nelson man Clark Ambrose captured images of them swimming under a standup paddle boarder about lunchtime.

"We heard a pod of orcas had been spotted at Tahuna Beach, so we headed down there with binoculars and camera in hand. They had left by the time we arrived, but we took a chance that they might head up Boulder Bank and we could catch them there," he said.

Mr Ambrose said when he and his wife arrived at the Boulder Bank, they could see a small group of orcas to the north and a large individual offshore. He said he took some photographs there, before heading to The Glen.

"Our luck held and we were able to watch them hunting along the shore for 10 to 15 minutes. It was great."

Mr Ambrose photographed one of the orcas approaching standup paddler boarder Graeme Bird, and passing underneath him.

Mr Bird said he had been paddle boarding to Mackay Bluff, and the orcas were in the bay when he returned.

"It was perfect timing. I paddled out into the line they were running, and just stood there. I didn't chase them or anything. They just went right under the board, and carried on," he said.

Mr Bird said there was a stingray on the bottom not far from him, which they were hunting.

"There was a bit of a kerfuffle, and I saw the stingray flying back towards town. There were two full-sized ones and a calf. It was pretty cool. They were obviously doing a lap of the bay."

The Nelson Mail