Canterbury's first humpback whale sighting of the season
A humpback whale has been spotted in a Canterbury harbour, exciting a boatload of tourists.
The first humpback sighting of the year in Akaroa Harbour on Monday afternoon sparked a frenzy of camera shutters from passengers on board a dolphin-watching cruise.
"This is the first sighting we have had of a humpback whale this year," Black Cat Cruises skipper Chris Jenkins said.
He said another cruise out by the Akaroa headlands radioed in the sighting, so he sped his vessel to the spot.
"We are so happy to have experienced this rare sighting and look forward to many more as they start to migrate north for winter," the skipper said.
Humpback whales frequently visit New Zealand waters, but are not often sighted as they migrate north to more tropical feeding climates in time for breeding season.
Black Cat marketing manager Natasha Lombart said they could not tell how old the whale was, "but we could tell from its distinct markings that it was not a juvenile".
"We also had the most dolphins I've ever seen on a swim experience in four years. This coupled with the humpback whale and an albatross sighting on a warm autumn day was just the best we could ask for."