Kaikoura Canyon lies immediately offshore of the east coast of South Island, New Zealand. The head of the canyon is 1 km off the mountainous coast, where the water depth plunges abruptly to 1000 meters. The canyon extends northeastward to join the Hikorangi Trough, which in turn connects with the abyssal KermadecTrench, one of the deepest spots on earth.
Kaikoura Canyon is an area of high biological productivity that sustains large, diverse populations of marine mammals, fishes and invertebrates. Sperm whales, particularly young males, occur throughout the year in inshore waters, although separate seasonal populations may be represented. This year-round availability of whales supports a rapidly growing whale watch industry with a world wide clientele.