Top 5 Things to do in Kaikoura, New Zealand

| September 2, 2011 | 2 Comments
Kaikoura

Image by Hector Garcia

Located on the east coast of the South Island, Kaikoura, New Zealand is one of the country’s largest tourist attractions.  The stunning, little seaside town offers majestic vistas of a brilliantly blue ocean and craggy mountain ranges, plenty to see and do as well as a charming small-town atmosphere.  No trip to New Zealand is complete without a trip to Kaikoura, and no trip to Kaikoura is complete without…

Climbing Mt. Fyffe

Towering over the Kaikoura Peninsula, the summit of Mt. Fyffe offers extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean, the Canterbury Plains and the Kaikoura Mountain Range.  On a clear day you can see as far as Banks Peninsula, just southeast of Christchurch.

The only way to reach the summit is to walk.  You could complete the hike in a single day, but the Department of Conservation operates a hut just short of the summit ($5.10/night to stay: purchase your ticket on DOC’s website before you go), so many take the option of a more leisurely two-day outing.  Besides, once you get the view from the top you may never want to come back down.

Whale Watching

Kaikoura, New Zealand is one of the world’s most renowned whale watching destinations.  Off the coast of the town is the deep, underwater Kaikoura Canyon.  This canyon attracts an abundance of marine life, including a population of sperm whales that make this area their year-round home.  It is extremely unusual for an area to maintain a whale population year-round, and it allows guests to experience the magnificent creatures no matter when they come.

Definitely don’t miss an opportunity to see the whales up close and personal.  Depending on the month you visit, you’re also likely to see migrating species like blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins and albatross.

Visiting the Seal Colony

Just southeast of the town, along the contours of the peninsula, is the Kaikoura seal colony (find it by following the yellow signs out of town).  The seal colony is a flat, rocky area where New Zealand fur seals come to lay in the sun between feedings.  You can walk along the beach and view the seals—just don’t get too close to the animals.  There are also a few short walks you can take that start from the car park that lead to great views of the surrounding area.

Eating Seafood by the Sea Shore

Kaikoura literally means ‘meal of crayfish’, so it would be a real shame to leave without sampling some of its finest cuisine.  Seafood is on offer everywhere, from pubs to cloth-napkin restaurants to roadside shacks.  These shacks might look rustic but they’re great spots to try out a wide variety of fish and shellfish and enjoy your meal by the beach.

If you want to try one of the town’s famous crayfish, plucked fresh from the sea, be warned that these creatures are a bit pricey: expect to pay around $40 for a tail.  If that’s not in your budget this trip, tuck into some classic fish and chips, prawns or New Zealand green-lipped mussels for a can’t-lose meal.

Taking a Scenic Flight

Have I mentioned that Kaikoura is beautiful?  To really get a feel for the regions unique topography, try a birds-eye view.  There are several companies in the area that offer scenic flights, both on helicopters and small planes.  A charter like this is a fantastic way to see everything from the deep blue Kaikoura Canyon to the snow-capped mountains to the rolling green fields of the south.
Author bio:  Whitney Cox is a New Zealand-based travel blogger who recently took a trip to Kaikoura, New Zealand to climb Mt. Fyffe and visit the seal colony.  She loves the area and can’t wait to go back.

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Category: Australia & New Zealand

Comments (2)

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  1. Kevin Cole says:

    The SIXTH top thing to do in Kaikoura is to go LLAMA TREKKING along Kaikoura Bay, including walking with your own llama, the peninsular seal colony, Fyffe House (restored whalers cottage & museum), spectacular views fo the Kaikoura mountains, picnic, fully guided – a truely unforgettable experience, not to be missed!

  2. Yes! Finally something about strane filmove.

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