Paddleboarders on New Zealand’s Nelson Haven were given a special surprise on Christmas Day, when three orcas stopped by for a visit.

Orcas in the wild.

Orcas in the wild. Image by Mike Charest / CC BY 2.0

Kayaking guide Kyle Mulinder was cycling along Rocks Rd when a group of paddleboarders between Haulashore Island and Tahunanui Beach caught his eye – it was then he noticed the orcas swimming around them. In an interview with, he noted the paddleboarders were not panicked at all: “They were definitely there for a purpose – orca-stalkers.”

He noted the orcas – two females and a male – were in no rush to move on. “They weren’t just passing through; they seemed to be hanging around for quite a bit. It was awesome. A nice little Christmas gift, I guess.”

The distinctive marine mammals frequent Nelson Haven at this time of year, and often come quite close to the shore. On 9 December, they came so close to the wharves while hunting stingrays, that harbour pilot and recreational fishing figure Troy Dando was splashed when one of them spouted.