This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
New Zealand-based tour operator Whale Watch has a marina in the town of Kaikoura, where the Seaward Kaikoura Range meets the Pacific Ocean. Every year, the company takes around 100,000 visitors from Kaikoura out to sea to view – with 95% success rate – giant sperm whales in their natural habitat. The company’s commitment to responsible tourism and the environment is key.
“As a Maori-owned company, we cherish the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world,” says Kauahi Ngapora, general manager of Whale Watch. “We make a living from nature, so we need to do what we can to minimise our impact.”
When the company was founded in 1987, it used a 6.7-metre inflatable vessel to carry eight passengers at a time. Today, the Whale Watch fleet comprises four modern catamarans specially designed for whale watching, each with capacity for up to 48 passengers. To minimise the company’s carbon footprint, the vessels’ engines have been made as fuel-efficient as possible.
Some years ago, Whale Watch undertook a significant project to review the types of engines it was using and standardised them all.
“Improved fuel economy, reliability, operational parameters providing us with the necessary performance, compatibility with our jet units and robust after-sales support were the criteria we reviewed, and both Scania and the team at South Pacific Diesel Systems [Scania’s distributor] were our preferred options,” says Ngapora.
Consequently, Scania collaborated with Hamilton Jet and Q-West Boat Builders to develop a propulsion system driven by 16-litre engines.
“That was not only kinder on the environment, but also offered other special benefits, including a significant reduction in fuel consumption and lower overall operating costs,” says Ross Williamson, managing director of South Pacific Diesel Systems.
Each of Whale Watch’s four catamarans is now powered by two new Scania engines.
“We are also very interested in developments around more environmentally sustainable engine options that still provide us with the performance we require,” Ngapora says. “We look forward to exploring this further with Scania. Maori take an inter-generational view of things, and that is really about doing what we can to ensure that what we have today can be enjoyed by future generations.”
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