The local mayor has confirmed that a boat carrying 11 people capsized in Goose Bay in Kaikoura, killing two people.
Kaikōura Mayor Chris Mackle said he believed the boat collided with the whale.
There was a group of women over 50 on board, Mackle said.
Michael said he felt sick as the incident unfolded.
He said police divers had arrived and local boats and divers had been helping.
Mackle said he was aware of six people who were brought in and were being treated.
Kaikoura councillor Lisa Bond said the incident was “incredibly heartbreaking”.
A police spokesman said they were responding to an incident near Kaikoura’s Goose Bay in which a boat reportedly capsized.
The South Bay slipway was closed to the public when police responded.
A reporter on the shore of Goose Bay said at 1:45 p.m. he could see three boats, two of which appeared to be Coast Guard vessels, and four helicopters near the capsized boat.
A capsized vessel is a small boat no more than 4m.
The two helicopters in the air appear to be Western Pacific Rescue Helicopters.
A spokesman for St John said they had been notified of an incident in Goose Bay later this morning.
The spokesman said police were responsible for dealing with emergencies.
An image on social media showed many people waiting to be rescued at the top of the overturned boat.
He knew an emergency response was underway and this morning he saw a helicopter fly into the South Bay.
Following the tragedy, Maritime New Zealand is sending an investigator to the area.
A spokesman said that while the compliance and safety group was aware of the incident, it was not directly involved in the rescue effort.
However, a maritime investigator is now travelling to Kaikoura to determine the cause of today’s incident.
– Additional report RNZ
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