Kaikoura (pronounced: Kai-kou-ra) is a small coastal town on the east coast (Pacific Ocean) of the South Island of New Zealand, about 180 km north of Christchurch and 130 km south of Blenheim. It is famed for its marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals) and other sea-life, all of which you can see, some of which you can swim with, and some you can eat.

17 things to do

All Places New Zealand

St Kilda Beach Bungalow

A newly renovated home that used to belong to one of Kaikoura's legendary fishermen, Richie Warman. St Kilda is directly opposite the beach, on a quiet road just 2km from the town centre. Only 100m away from the historic Fyffe whalers cottage, 600m to a public boat launch which is at Jimmy Armer’s beach, 1km to the seal colony, peninsula walk and seafront BBQ. The walk to Kaikoura’s town centre and restaurants is flat and follows the sea. Opposite the house is Mics Bay which is a marine reserve and home to St Kilda’s Reef, and is a great surf spot, weather permitting. Jimmy Armer’s beach is a great spot for snorkelling and boating. St Kilda boasts breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Ideal for a romantic break or a treat for the family. There is a sheltered BBQ area, spacious spa bath, shower suitable for disabled persons. Cots and high chairs can be provided upon request. The kitchen is brand new and has all amenities.

SLEEP   —  52 Avoca St

The Strawberry Tree

Relaxed and friendly environment. It has a sunny beer garden and, in winter, an open fire. They also have their own brand of beer called Sheep Shagger's lager. Wednesday nights are quiz nights. Fridays are jam nights – everyone is welcome to get up and have a go. There is a range of live music playing, especially during the summer months. The menu includes crayfish, seafood chowder, blue cod, steak, mussels and much more.

EAT   —  21 West End

Hapuku Lodge

12km north of Kaikoura. World renowned for its whale watching and marine diversity. Nestled tight between the mountains and the sea, the Lodge shares the land with a deer stud and olive grove. Accommodation consists of six spacious bedrooms, a self-contained modern apartment and five luxury tree houses located in the canopy of a native manuka grove.

SLEEP   —  Map

The Fairways

Luxury accommodation situated in Kaikoura's newest residential 'eco' land development, Ocean Ridge. One and two bedroom self-contained apartments and studios ideal for couples and families. Located about 5min drive south of the town, these units feature all the mod cons including in-unit washer dryer.

SLEEP   —  Map

Kekerengu Store

On the main highway, 53km (40 minutes drive) north of Kaikoura. Stop for a bite to eat, or a meal. The best restaurant for miles - hey, its the only restaurant for miles and has to be the best, so people will stop. Just far enough north, on your way to Picton, to justify pulling over for a rest break.

EAT   —  Map

The Top Shop Fish and Chips

Located about 1.5km north of the centre of Kaikoura, just on the beach side of the main road, you'll find some of the best fish in New Zealand. However, the chips are without doubt the best and great value too. Run by the nicest, friendliest and most helpful couple you could wish to meet.

EAT   —  Beach Road, Kaikoura

Kaikoura Wilderness Walks

Two & 3 day all-inclusive guided hikes through the privately owned Puhi Peaks Nature Reserve near Kaikoura. Upmarket lodge accommodation, untamed wilderness, dramatic alpine terrain, expert local guides.

DO   —  +64 3 319-6966 —  Map

South Pacific Safaris

Experienced, professional hunting guides offering deer hunting trips and other trophy hunts amongst magnificent mountains near Kaikoura plus luxury hunting lodge accommodation.

Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park

Offers a range of accommodation options including motels, self-contained units, cabins, camping and power sites. Has a heated swimming pool, spa, and adventure playground.

SLEEP   —  Map

Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park

A picturesque holiday destination offering a wide range of accommodation for motorhomes, caravans and tents. Also, a variety of self-contained accommodations.

SLEEP   —  Map

Dive Kaikoura

5 Star PADI Dive Centre. You can dive the kelp forests and limestone reefs on guided scuba diving tours with them.

Fyffe House

Kaikoura's oldest building. The earliest part, built in the 1842, sits on whale vertebrae foundations.

SEE   —  +64 3 319-5835 —  62 Avoca St

Kaikoura Kayaks

Kayak with seals and dolphins.

DO   —  Map

Swim With Seals

DO   —  Map

Whale watching

DO   —  Map

About Kaikoura

Kaikoura lies on a narrow coastal plain between high mountains and the Pacific Ocean. In places along this coast the mountains drop almost straight into the sea, with barely enough flat land for a single railway line, two lane road and rocky beach, and even then some short tunnels are needed on corners. The steepness of the mountains reflects the underwater geography as well. The deep-water Hikurangi Trench and the continental shelf edge lies just offshore here. This causes the ocean around Kaikoura to be rich in sea life and attracts seals, whales (and humans) to the area to partake in the bounty of the sea. The town itself has a similar charm to an east coast USA beach town, with a hodgepodge of signs trying to grab tourists' attention. At the edges of the town, the more relaxed and nature-oriented activities again take precedence. Kaikoura is the perfect place to enjoy both the wonders of the magnificent Pacific Ocean and the tall, majestic mountains. A great place to stay, it is also an ideal rest stop on a section of State Highway 1 (SH1) that passes through isolated country both north and south of the town.

Source: wikivoyage