Kaikoura  (Pronounced: Kai-kou-ra) is a small coastal town on the east (or Pacific Ocean) coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Situated about half way between Christchurch and Blenheim, this area of New Zealand is famed for its seafood.
In Maori, kai means "eat" and koura is "crayfish' (rock lobster). So Kaikoura is a place to eat crayfish!
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 to be accommodated and even then some short tunnels are needed on corners. The steepness of the mountains reflects the underwater geography as well 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 hodge podge of signs trying to grab the tourists attention. At the edges of the town, the more relaxed and nature oriented activities again take precidence.
The Maori settled in Kaikoura long before European colonisation of New Zealand and cultivated the coastal plain, planting kumara, a form of sweet potato. Maori legend has it that Maui placed his foot on the Kaikoura peninsula to steady himself as he 'fished-up' the North Island.
In 1770, Captain Cook discovered the Kaikoura peninsula, believing it to be an island at first. Early European settlers used Kaikoura as a whaling station and the remains of pots used to render the whale blubber can be seen on the town foreshore.
Kaikoura is the perfect place to enjoy both the wonders of the magnificent Pacific Ocean and the tall, majestic mountains.
Kaikoura is on State Highway 1, two hours drive north of Christchurch.