Kaikoura has magnificent scenery, with great marine attractions and adventure activities, plus a rich history, both Maori and Pakeha. Framed by the spectacular mountain range and the expansive Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura is a thriving seaside town about two and a half hours’ drive north of Christchurch.
Kaikoura boasts a number of tourist attractions; it’s famous for Whale Watch© and Dolphin Encounter, and also provides a wonderful opportunity for viewing an impressive array of seabirds such as the mighty Albatross. Whales can be viewed from a boat or from the air, depending on weather conditions. There are amazing coastal walks alongside the magnificent Kaikoura Range, with abundant aquatic and bird life. The peninsula’s tip provides the opportunity to view fur seals basking on the rocks, or see some of the world’s largest seagoing birds. Numerous adventures await your arrival back on land, including 4-wheel motor biking, cave tours, horse trekking, skiing, scenic mountain flights, mini-golf course, public swimming pool. There are mountain bike trails to suit all levels and surfing at world-renowned Mangamaunu Beach and Peketa Beach.
Set amongst native bush on a massive 3,000 acre site outside of Kaikoura, the new EcoZip experience will send you flying down 5 side-by-side ziplines totaling more than 2km.
Conservation will sit at the heart of the project, with native tree planting and pest eradication programmes set to return the site to its beautiful, untouched state.
Dolphin Encounter specialises in providing an exhilarating experience of swimming or watching wild dusky dolphins in their natural environment off the Kaikoura Coast. Albatross Encounter takes advantage of the epic diversity of albatross species and numerous other pelagic birds all located within 15 minutes of Kaikoura’s coastline.
Whale Watch® is New Zealand’s only marine-based whale watching company offering visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the giant sperm whale all year round. A 95% success rate means a guaranteed 80% refund if your tour does not see a whale. Whale Watch® tours are extremely popular so early bookings are recommended.
Enjoy the kayaking adventure of a lifetime in Kaikoura! Catch up with the local fur seals, blue penguins and dusky dolphins as they duck and dive around the scenic Kaikoura coastline. Hire your own kayak or if you want to upskill first, take a course at their highly respected Kayak School. It’s the perfect family experience!
Put yourself in the ultimate vantage point and explore Kaikoura and its many natural wonders by helicopter. See the entire whale as you hover and fly slow orbits above him. Be amazed by the large pods of dolphins. Explore the unique and rugged Kaikoura coastline. Fly through the towering peaks of the Kaikoura Seaward Ranges. Discover your sense of adventure by experiencing a heli raft, hike or picnic.
While you are in New Zealand head for Kaikoura and go whale watching… by aeroplane! It’s the best way to view whales and mountains. In a typical 30-minute flight you will see the majestic sperm whale preparing for his next dive and up to 500 dusky dolphins playfully swimming. Occasional sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and Blue Whales.
New Zealand’s Kaikoura is most famed for its whale and dolphin spotting tours, but the seaside town offers plenty of action on land too. Llama trekking is a unique and entertaining way of exploring the local countryside – hikes take in the rolling hills of the Kaikoura mountain ranges, the rocky coastline where a seal colony has taken up roots, and windswept stretches of beach. Llamas may not be most people’s pet of choice, but the charismatic (and surprisingly cuddly) animals make the perfect companions for a hike, tottering behind you on the end of a lead rope and happily carrying your lunch in their saddlebags. Kaikoura Llama trekking is eco-friendly too, with the trekking company operating an organic farm where everything is put to use – llama droppings are used for compost and even the walls of their home are insulated with llama and sheep wool.
The Whale Train journeys between the small port town of Picton, known as “the gateway” to the South Island, and the mainland’s hub, Christchurch. Your heritage train is powered by the famous WW1 Memorial “Passchendaele” Steam Locomotive between Picton-Kaikoura and then powered by our retro, red and white, 1950’s classic DA locomotive between Kaikoura-Christchurch.
The departure from Picton commences with one of the steepest climbs in New Zealand, the Picton elevation, then across the Para Wetlands into the Wairau Valley, through the heart of the Marlborough Winelands, up the Dashwood Pass, bursting out to the Awatere Valley, across the historic railroad bridge to Seddon, for a steam locomotive water stop.
The landscapes open up to greet the Pacific coastline for the journey to Kaikoura, a town acclaimed for its abundant marine wildlife, famed resident sperm whale population and dramatic mountain backdrops. Towering over Kaikoura, the ‘Guardians of the Seas’ – the mountains of the Southern Alps, rise majestically from the deep trenches of the Southern Ocean with the railway line wedged in between, before turning inland via the vast Canterbury Plains towards the main South Island City of Christchurch.