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Kaikoura [4] (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 coastal plain between high mountains and the Pacific Ocean. In places along the 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 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.


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.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Kaikoura is on State Highway 1, two hours drive north of Christchurch.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

  • Sperm whales, dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, wandering albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikoura often hosts the world's largest dolphin, the Orca, and is home to the world's smallest and rarest, the Hector's. Kaikoura 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.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Surf - reef breaks and point breaks. Two surf shops in Kaikoura.
  • Kaikoura Kayaks, [5]. Kayak with seals and dolphins.
  • Swim With Dolphins, [6].
  • Swim With Seals, [7].
  • Kaikoura Wilderness Walks, 64 3 319 6966, [1]. 3 day all-inclusive guided hikes through the privately owned Puhi Peaks Nature Reserve near Kaikoura. Upmarket lodge accommodation, untamed wilderness, dramatic alpine terrain, expert local guides  edit
  • South Pacific Safaris, Glencree Station, +64 3 319 5189, [2]. Experienced professional hunting guides offering deer hunting trips and other trophy hunts amongst magnificent mountains near Kaikoura plus luxury hunting lodge accommodation.  edit
  • Whale watching - multiple trips daily [8].

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Alpine-Pacific Holiday Park, [9] - a picturesque holiday park offering accommodation for motorhomes, caravans and tents and a variety of self-contained accommodations.
  • The Fairways, [3]. luxury accommodation in a new residential 'eco' land development, Ocean Ridge. 1 and 2 bedroom self-contained apartments and studios ideal for couples and families. These units feature all the mod cons including in unit washer dryer. $320 two BR. (-42.41103528333333,173.6448812333333) edit
  • Kaikoura Top 10 Holiday Park, [10] - a range of accommodation options including motels, self-contained units, cabins, camping and power sites. Facilities includine a heated swimming pool, spa, and adventure playground.
  • Lazy Shag Backpackers - 37 Beech Road.
  • Dusky Lodge - along the main coastal road; with hot tub / decking area and swimming pool.
  • Hapuku Lodge [11] - 12 km north of Kaikoura. Nestled tight between the mountains and the sea, the Lodge shares the land with a deer stud and olive grove. Accommodation consists of six spacious bedrooms, a self-contained modern apartment and five luxury tree houses located in the canopy of a native Manuka grove.


Gateway Motor Lodge

Get out[edit]

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