Small Town New Zealand: Kaikoura

visit kaikouraSitting in a beautiful bay and backed by the steeply rising slopes of the Seaward Kaikoura range, Kaikoura is best known for its astonishing array of marine life. But there’s plenty of other activities to keep you busy when you visit, too…

Go whale watching
Kaikoura’s coastal waters attract an abundance of marine life, including dusky dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Hector’s dolphin, orca, fur seals and the giant of the deep – the sperm whale. Numerous operators offer whale watching tours and dolphin swimming – if you’re visiting in the busy summer months you’ll probably have to book in advance.

Walk the Kaikoura Peninsula
This is a three-hour walk along the coastline, that can be broken up into shorter trips. The track crosses the peninsula’s clifftop, with excellent views of the Seaward Kaikoura Range, ocean and coastline. It returns to the township via South Bay and Toms Track. Watch for seals lounging about the track – they’re not overly fond of being disturbed and it’s recommended you keep your distance.

Climb or ride Mount Fyffe
Mount Fyffe and the Seaward Kaikoura Range dominate the Kaikoura skyline and offer plenty of adventure opportunities, from gentle strolls to more serious uphill hauls. It’s an 8-hour return trip to the top of Mount Fyffe by foot, or tackle the steep and challenging climb on your mountain bike. Make sure you check your brakes first! For a shorter stroll, try the Hinau Track – a 45-minute loop through a pretty forest. The Mount Fyffe carpark also gives access to the Kowhai River ride – an easy-going MTB track that offers a good mix of 4WD and purpose-built singletrack.

Sample a cray
When Tama ki Te Rangi first visited Kaikoura many hundreds of years ago (supposedly in pursuit of his runaway wives!) he was delighted to find an abundance of crayfish. He named the area “Te Ahi Kaikoura a Tama ki Te Rangi” – the fire that cooked the crayfish of Tama ki Te Rangi. Crayfish is still a local delicacy, alongside a whole host of other seafood.

Visit Kaikoura as part of our 7 Day Road Cycle Tour Top of the South Island. This is a Grade 2 ride that starts in Christchurch and takes you over the Southern Alps to the West Coast. After cycling the twists and turns of the coast road, you’ll head to Nelson and the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. There’s time for a visit to some of Marlborough’s top vineyards before you make your way to Kaikoura, where you can round off your tour with a whale watching expedition or a swim with dolphins. Read all the details here.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt

P.S. Happy Easter! Our opening hours this weekend are: Good Friday closed, Saturday open 10am-4pm, Easter Sunday closed, Easter Monday closed, Tuesday 29 March open as usual 9am-5pm.

Image: Andrea Schaffer