Five people have died after a boat carrying 11 bird lovers capsized off Kaikoura’s Goose Bay, police have confirmed.
The ship capsized this morning around 10am.
Rescue operations in the area are now complete.
Polsey said the boat capsized after a “collision”, but could not confirm what had struck.
Kaikoura Mayor Craig Muckle said he believed the boat collided with a whale.
“From what we understand, the whale overturned the upturned boat. It came up from below.
“We have closed the port so they can continue their work.”
He said the logs would pierce the hull rather than overturn it, so the hull was less likely to capsize.
RNZ understands that one of the six people rescued from the boat was the captain.
Richard Hill, of the Cods and Crays fish and chip shop, said he had worked with the captain before.
“He’s a very safe guy and there’s no way to take risks.
“So I would have thought there must be some kind of anomalous quality.
“It’s a really sad day for Kaikoura. Just a shock.”
Hill said the community in 2000 was in turmoil.
Muckle said the boat had a group of women over the age of 50 on board and the sea was calm with no waves.
Videos on social media show the boat being overturned and passengers sitting on top.
The Kaikoura Whale Watch Company recently had a close encounter with a humpback whale in the area.
A social media post showed two humpback whales unusually close to one of the boats last week.
According to the tourism company, their boats are usually 50 meters away from the whales, but two animals were so intrigued by the boat that they came within a few meters.
The captain shut off the engine, but it took 40 minutes to safely clear the whale.
New Zealand Maritime Authority inspectors are from Christchurch to help with the investigation.
The harbor is closed to the public.
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/474507/five-dead-after-fishing-charter-boat-capsizes-off-kaikoura-coast Five dead as charter boat capsizes off Kaikoura