Kaikoura is one of a few places in the world that can boast stunning nature on both land and sea. Just a little over 2 hours drive north of Christchurch on the South Island, this small coastal town is where the mountains meet the sea. The Kaikoura mountain ranges are the northern-most part of the Southern Alps and are such an impressive sight…snow-capped in winter and they frame the Kaikoura village to the Pacific Ocean. The scenery is simply awe-inspiring.
In addition, the Kaikoura coastal waters provide a unique habitat for marine life. Just 800 metres off the coast lies the submarine Kaikōura Canyon which provides a constant rich food chain for the local population of Sperm Whales, Dolphins, Seals, Albatross and Penguins. The waters are a protected marine sanctuary for the many who call Kaikoura home. Kaikoura is an absolute must visit for wildlife lovers and marine encounters!
So it is easy to see why Kaikoura offers many compelling reasons for any tourist to visit this pretty amazing region. Its location is on the well-worn coastal path between Christchurch and Marlborough Sounds. The town caters well for the wide range of marine & land activities. There is a huge variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury lodges, glass pods set in the stunning landscape, motels & a very unique farm-stay. Lose yourself in the landscape, walks, marine activities and whale watching. The hard part is deciding on how to fit everything in!
Here are some of the key things to do:
Kaikoura is best known for their giant sperm whales. Whale watching cruises run all year. With a 95% chance of spotting a whale, it is an absolute must-do and a great way to meet the whales up close! Minimum age is 3 years and tour duration 3 hours.
Swim with Dolphins/Seals:
Catch a tour to swim or watch the local resident Dusky Dolphins. It’s a fun activity that will hold special memories! Minimum age is 8 years for swimming or 3 years to watch. Tour duration is 3 hours. Alternatively, why not snorkel with wild NZ fur seals? Recently listed as one of the world’s ‘Top 10 Marine Encounters’ by Lonely Planet. Tours run daily over the summer months.
Kayak with Seals:
Kayaking is a great way to explore the marine environment and be closer to the stars of the show, the local playful fur seals. You will also have chance encounters with dolphins, penguins and albatross. Discover the magnificent marine life of Kaikoura! Participate in a guided tour with a maximum of 8 persons. 3-hour duration.
There are a number of easy walks that deliver plenty of wildlife and natural wilderness. Firstly, walk the 3-hour Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. It’s a great way to observe seals & seabirds as well as enjoy the amazing views. The Ōhau Point Seal Colony is not-to-be-missed. Expect hundreds of Seals and their Pups. Finally, don’t forget the Ōhau waterfall walk. A great chance to enjoy the waterfall views as well as see Seal Pups sunning themselves on the rocks.
Kaikoura has plenty of alternative options once you have exhausted your marine wildlife activities. Catch the Coastal Pacific Train to Picton or Christchurch. If you love seafood, then feast on fresh crayfish from many of the local restaurants. You can enjoy some quad bike riding with amazing views, go fishing, visit the local Lavender Farm, catch a sheep-shearing session, meet the extraordinary Albatross seabirds up close or visit the Farmer’s Market to chat to the locals and enjoy the fresh produce.
Make sure to add Kaikoura to your wish list for your next New Zealand holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one area not to be missed. Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!