Discover What Lives Below in Kaikōura

visit kaikouraIf you want to glimpse a true giant of the deep, put Kaikōura on your to-do list. This small town on the east coast of the South Island is one of the few places in the world where sperm whales can be seen year-round and close to shore.

Why? Well, it’s all due to the Kaikōura Canyon, a submarine trench located just 800 metres off the coast. Home to a rich concentration of underwater life, the canyon’s deep trenches and swirling currents provide the sperm whales, as well as a whole host of other wildlife, with the marine equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Sperm whales are one of the deepest diving whales, with the ability to descend hundreds of metres to find their food. Only male sperm whales visit Kaikōura – the females and young whales stick to warmer tropical waters.

During the winter months, humpback whales are also frequent visitors to Kaikōura, passing through on their way north to warmer waters. Other wildlife you might spot include dusky dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Hector’s dolphin, orca, fur seals and a wide variety of sea birds.

Whale Watch Kaikoura offers daily boat tours (weather dependent), or you can view the ocean from above with a plane or helicopter tour.

And take your bikes along for your visit. Kaikōura offers several mountain biking opportunities, from the relaxed and cruisy Kowhai Trail to the steep and technical slopes of the Mt Fyffe Track (advanced riders only). You can pick up track maps from the Kaikōura i-Site.

Getting to Kaikōura

Kaikōura’s road access was disrupted by last November’s earthquake and repair work is still taking place. The current road situation looks like this:

SH1 South (Christchurch – Cheviot – Kaikōura) is open 7.00am to 6.00pm Friday – Monday, with scheduled closures on Tues/Wed/Thurs for repair work.
Inland Route 70 (Christchurch – Hanmer Springs – Kaikōura) is open 24/7.
SH1 North (Kaikōura – Picton) is closed until December 2017.

Kaikōura town is open for business as usual. For an up-to-date status of the roads, check out the New Zealand Transport Agency website.

Have a great week,

P.S. Visit Kaikōura as part of our 7 Day Road Cycle Tour Top of the South Island. This Grade 2 ride starts in Christchurch and takes you over the Southern Alps to the West Coast, before heading 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 Kaikōura, where you can round off your tour with a whale watching expedition. Read all the details here.

Image: Andrea Schaffer