Orca swim up in shallows of Canterbury's Akaroa Harbour
A familiar and friendly pod of orca have been spotted up close in Akaroa.
The pod were filmed cruising in Canterbury's Akaroa Harbour on Monday afternoon.
Akaroa Dolphins owner Hugh Waghorn said there were nine orca of various ages in the pod.
"We found them and we told all the other operators. Once everyone is out on the water, you may as well take advantage of it."
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Black Cat Cruises staff enjoyed seeing the first orca of the season, which was a month earlier than the first spotting last year.
Black Cat Cruises sales and marketing manager Natasha Lombart said that technically there was no orca season in New Zealand, but Black Cat Cruises had a few orca sightings each year, which tended to happen in spring.
Waghorn said they had come to expect the pod about the same time.
On Monday, the orca did a "quick lap" around the harbour, coming in as far as the shallows of Barry's Bay, before going out again.
"There is a pod of orca that rotate round New Zealand and they specialise in feeding on rays in the shallows. They're our own pod of orca, so we see this pod maybe two or three times a year."
In the pod of nine, there were two male bulls, and several teens and "kiddies".
Waghorn said the pod's movements in Akaroa did not affect the Hector's dolphin.
"There are pods of orca that come up from the south. . . and they do feed on dolphins but these ones are our friendly New Zealand orca."
Waghorn said visits by orca in the harbour were increasing. In one year, there could be up to six sightings.
"That is great to know that maybe the coastal environment is more conducive to orca than it used to be."
The same thing applied to whales.
"Every year we are seeing more and more humpback whales migrating past the heads of Akaroa."