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Life long surfer Craig Hunter (aka Billy) was surfing at Stent Road surf break near Cape Egmont in Taranaki, when he saw a big whale about 6.30pm yesterday.
"It's one of those situations where you've just got to enjoy it," he told NZPA from his home in Oakura.
"There was no way I was going in because the waves were too good."
He kept surfing and enjoyed the space as there was only one other surfer in the sea.
"It was good actually because I think a few people didn't go out, because they could see it."
The whale was swimming around a couple of hundred metres away doing a "bit of fishing" for about 30-40 minutes, Mr Hunter said.
"Then he decided he'd come and have a look to see what was happening over there where I was. He just cruised by and then I think he took off."
He had seen a girl killed by a shark when he was 16 and an orca did not make him nervous, Mr Hunter said.
"It sort of gets you going a little wee bit. But it's a really cool feeling."
He had seen whales while surfing in the past, although it did not happen as often as it used to.
"We get to see them a few times every summer... They're cool. It would be nice to see a few more of them."
Photographer Jane Dove Juneau said she saw one large orca and two small ones, which appeared to be heading south along the coast.
Mr Hunter said he must have been "too busy" surfing to notice the other two whales.