Welcome to Kaikoura

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About Kaikoura

Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered by land and sea in Kaikōura.

Kaikōura is the northern-most district within the Canterbury region and is easily accessible with a 2.5hr drive from Christchurch. To the North is the port of Picton just 2hrs drive, where you can catch the ferry across to Wellington. It has a population of approx 4,500 residents.

Kaikōura translates to ‘crayfish’ in Māori and is known as the crayfish capital.

Kaikōura often hosts the world’s largest dolphin – the Orca – and is home to the world’s smallest and rarest – the Hector’s. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwater. 
A town with it’s own fascinating history, archaeological remains indicate that Moa Hunters inhabited the peninsula 900 years ago. In Maori legend, Maui placed his foot on the Kaikoura peninsula to steady himself while he ‘fished-up’ the North Island. The area’s abundant food sources attracted Maori settlement, and the remains of several pa sites can still seen on the peninsula to this day.

In 1770 Captain Cook first discovered the Kaikoura peninsula, believing it to be an island. The first shore whaling station was established in 1843, located near where Fyffe House still stands today. Other whaling stations soon followed, and at one stage the industry employed over one hundred men in the Kaikoura district alone. Whale numbers steadily declined after 1850 and the exportation of them became un-economic, leading whalers to turn to alternative means of existence, such as farming. Whaling continued sporadically until as recently as 1964 when the last of NZ’ s whaling operations ceased.

Today, the emphasis in Kaikoura is the conservation of marine life, working with a sustainable tourist industry which allows visitors from all over the world to appreciate life in the ocean. In 1978, the Marine Mammal Protection Act was finally passed, providing total protection to New Zealand’ s whales, dolphins and seals. Kaikoura lies within the Southern Hemisphere Whale Sanctuary.