Video: Southern right whale spends day in Wellington Harbour

A southern right whale has made a surprise appearance in the Wellington Harbour.

NIWA scientists had a front row seat as they followed the whale, also known as the Tohara whale, as it spent much of the day diving and breaching the waters on Wednesday.

While the whales are slow swimmers they are known for being acrobatic and inquisitive, which is clear in the stunning video captured by the scientists.

Video: Southern right whale spends day in Wellington Harbour
Photo credit: NIWA

The whales are only occasionally sighted around mainland New Zealand, often very close to shore in sheltered waters.

NIWA took the opportunity to study the whale's sounds and collect a biopsy while it was in the harbour.

Video: Southern right whale spends day in Wellington Harbour
Photo credit: NIWA

Southern right or Tohara whales seen around New Zealand grow to around 15 metres long and tend to come from the subantarctic.

They are mostly black in colour and can be identified by their lack of dorsal fin, V-shaped blowhole spray and white growths on their heads called callosities.

Newshub.