7 Jul 2018

Wgtn whale visit: Police urge drivers to stay focussed

5:40 pm on 7 July 2018

Wellington police are asking drivers not to stop on the motorway to catch a glimpse of a visiting whale.

The southern right whale has been captivating whale watchers this week in the city's harbour.

However, police said there had already been "several near-misses" on the motorway today.

"We understand that people are keenly interested in viewing our special harbour visitor, and we certainly don't want to stand in the way of that. However we do need people to be safe about it," police said in a statement.

They urged whale-watchers to find a safe parking spot, instead.

Yesterday, the city council announced a Matariki fireworks display planned for tonight would be postponed because of the whale's visit.

"The advice we've received is that the noise from the fireworks is unlikely to cause harm to the whale but that it could cause it to act unpredictably if it is in the vicinity," acting mayor Jill Day said.

Ms Day said there had been strong iwi and public support in favour of postponing the display.

"Wellingtonians have fallen in love with this whale - this taonga - and they've been telling us they don't want anything untoward to happen to it," she said.

"The whale's presence is a true blessing for Matariki."