The 5 best things to do in Kaikoura. This is what the pretty coastal town is famous for!

Kaikoura is a pretty little coastal town two and a half hours north of Christchurch. There are plenty of pretty little coastal towns in New Zealand. What makes Kaikoura special?

What is Kaikoura famous for? When you arrive in Kaikoura you’ll see huge mountains that frame the town. What you can’t see is that less than 2kms off the shoreline, the ocean is just as deep as those mountains thanks to a deep underwater sea canyon – this provides the perfect conditions making Kaikoura so unique.

1. The best place to see a variety of whales

Kaikoura is home to giant Sperm whales all year round and many other species of dolphins and whales migrate through its waters. Locals will tell you they often see whales from their living room windows, but the best way to see them is to take a whale watching tour. You could see White whales, Minke, Blue whales, Killer whales (technically dolphins – we know) and Humpback whales. Either head out on a Whale Watch boat or watch from above with Wings over Whales.

Spotting whales in Kaikoura with Wings over Whales
Spotting whales in Kaikoura with Wings over Whales

2. Kaikoura’s resident Dusky Dolphins are super playful

Dusky dolphins are playful and inquisitive and renowned as some of the best dolphins in the world to swim with. They love it when you play with them, blow bubbles and sing underwater! You might also see rare Hector’s Dolphins, only found off the coast of New Zealand. Dolphin Encounter runs a sunrise dolphin watch-and-swim tour which makes for some gorgeous photos.

Playing with Dolphins on the Dolphin Encounter Tour
Playing with Dolphins on the Dolphin Encounter tour – such an amazing experience!

3. You can see it all for free!

Hiking the Kaikoura peninsula walkway is one of the most popular, enjoyable and best ways to see Kaikoura and some of the wildlife for free! There is a seal colony at the beginning of the track, lots of birdlife, and dolphins and whales come pretty close to the shoreline, so you might spot them as you are hiking around the headland.

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway has our seal of approval!
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway has our seal of approval!

4. Deep-sea fishing, just a few kilometres offshore

You don’t have to travel miles out to sea for a fantastic deep-sea fishing experience. Oh, and there’s a reason why there are so many whales, dolphins and seals in Kaikoura – it’s because there are so many fish! You’re pretty much guaranteed to catch one. The local fish and chip shop will be happy to cook up your fresh catch for you to enjoy, for just a few dollars.

5. It’s the place to try New Zealand crayfish!

Kaikoura translated literally mean “food-crayfish” or “meal of crayfish” in Maori. You’ll find plenty of places to try this national delicacy in Kaikoura. You’ll also find fresh scallops, fish, paua and mussels. Make sure you try some Kai Moana when you’re in town.

The Seafood Hut offers some divine seafood delights!
The Seafood Hut offers some divine seafood delights!

There you have it! From the amazing wildlife to the delicious seafood and the spectacular views of this little coastal town, Kaikoura is a place that needs to go on your bucket list and explored sooner rather than later!

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Bhavisha

She likes to explore New Zealand and to blog about it. No preference in North or South Island as both are equally beautiful, yet in a very different way. Follow Bhavisha's journey on our travel blog to get inspiration for your upcoming NZ trip.

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