The Department of Conservation's annual count of whales in Cook Strait has begun.
Researchers on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds count the mammals as they migrate north from Antarctic waters to their South Pacific breeding grounds.
The survey, in its ninth year, is to assess the recovery of humpback whales since commercial whaling ended in New Zealand in 1964.
The findings show their numbers are slowly increasing.
Last year, a record 73 humpbacks and 19 blue whales were spotted during the four-week survey.