Things to Do
Go whale watching anytime of the year and see if you can spot a Sperm Whale, Pilot Whale or Orca. If you'd like to see some cute seals playing in the shallow waters, take the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. It's about an hour and a half, one way, to the seal colony and you'll pass some impressive limestone formations and seabird colonies on the way, too. If you really love hiking, take the Mt Fyffe track, which gives a beautiful panoramic view of Kaikoura, from the top. After taking in the view, make sure you stop off at Fyffe House, one of the local colonial whalers' cottages that's managed to survive since the 1860s. It's the oldest building in Kaikoura and its foundation is actually built upon whalebones, giving some interesting insight into the whaling industry of a bygone era.
On the first Saturday of October, Canterbury locals flock to Kaikoura for the annual Seafest. During the event, you'll enjoy live entertainment and plenty of local cuisine, especially crayfish. In fact, the Maori name "Kaikoura" translates to "meal of crayfish", so make sure you tuck into at least one plate of this local delicacy while you're here.
Getting Here and Around
Christchurch Airport is about two hours away and there are regular bus and train services from Christchurch to Kaikoura. If you don't want to hire a car to get around town, there's a local sightseeing shuttle bus service that can take you to the most popular tourist attractions and, of course, drop you off at the boat for a whale-watching tour. If you'd like to explore some of the nearby regions, why not stop in at the thermal pools of Hanmer Springs or head to the Marlborough wine region? Two hours north of Kaikoura is Picton, the gateway to exploring the North Island.
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Hotels in Kaikoura start at NZ$89 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.