Kanohi Ki Te Kanohi
Whale Watch Kaikoura has been named overall winner of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2009. The Telegraph’s Mark Chipperfield travels to the seaside town to spot some southern cetaceans. Whale Watch Kaikoura is now the region’s biggest employer, with a full-time staff of 77, a custom-built marina, a fleet of six purpose-built catamarans and an annual turnover of $10m. On Chipperfield’s second day in Kaikoura, a family of humpback whales was spotted frolicking offshore. Within minutes the Esplanade was crowded with excited onlookers, locals and tourists alike, craning to catch a glimpse, bound in the moment. “In our culture we have a saying: kanohi ki te kanohi – face to face. My breath, your breath,” says director Marcus Solomon. “A destination is more than just a place on the map, it’s the people you meet there and the experiences you share. So tourism has a huge responsibility – its arms reach far and wide.” The Responsible Tourism Awards judges said of the company: “Rarely do we see a tourism initiative developed from the ground up by a local community to such a successful and grand scale – growing from modest beginnings to securing in a joint venture with Sea World on the Gold Coast of Australia to provide their whale watching.” Wellington’s YHA won the award for best large hotel/accommodation (more than 50 rooms).