The seaside settlement of Kaikoura rests where the Pacific Ocean meets the snow-capped peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. It’s one of New Zealand’s best places to encounter whales, catch and eat crayfish and hike coastal trails.
Things to do in Kaikoura
Encounter Kaikoura's most majestic marine life on a whale-watching cruise between November and March. If you’re lucky, you might even glimpse the annual migration. You can also go snorkeling with wild dolphins.
Point Kean Seal Colony is another must-see for wildlife enthusiasts, offering a peninsula boardwalk and viewing platform where you can see the fur seals up close. On your return journey, stop by Kaikoura Seafood BBQ, a long-standing roadside restaurant and top-rated place to sample affordable crayfish and scallops.
One of the best provincial museums in New Zealand, the Kaikoura Museum offers an insightful look into the culture and traditions of the Maori people and Kaikoura’s whaling and farming history. For an outdoor adventure, follow a wilderness trail in the Kaikoura Ranges, such as the Mt Fyffe and Kowhai-Hapuku circuits.
Arrive in time for Kaikoura Seafest, a one-day celebration in early October that blends seafood, wine, beer and music. Costumes are encouraged, so feel free to join in with the local folk by dressing as a penguin, dolphin or whale. After all the festivities, stroll through purple gardens at Lavendyl Lavender Farm.
Getting around Kaikoura
Kaikoura is a scenic 2.5-hour drive north of Christchurch International Airport. Intercity buses arrive from Christchurch, while trains come from Picton in the north. Rental cars and shuttle buses are available for local transport.