Whale watching, fresh crayfish and swimming with the seals are all part of the Kaikoura experience making this town a worthwhile stop on your South Island holiday. Located halfway between Picton and Christchurch this coastal settlement is surrounded by snow covered mountains and a rocky foreshore. Seals bask on the rocks along the beach and roadside stalls sell fresh crayfish straight from the fishing boats. Kaikoura whale watching tours operate all year round to view the Giant Sperm Whale as the weather permits. Humpbacks, Southern Right and Blue Whales are sometimes seen on their migration to other parts of the world.
Dusky Dolphin, Fur Seals and the mighty Royal Albatross may also be encountered along the way. Aerial tours to view the whales are available by helicopter or fixed wing plane. Kaikoura tours specialising in Maori culture, native forests, wilderness walks, dive sites and dolphin encounters depart regularly and offer a unique cross section of activities. Other Kaikoura attractions and activities include kayaking around the peninsula, skydiving, quad biking and horse riding. Kaikoura is also on the scenic rail line between Picton and Christchurch and the Tranz Coastal Rail journey is one of the most picturesque in the country, if not the world.
An informative commentary along with a journey through 22 tunnels and over 175 bridges makes for an interesting train ride. Fishing trips to the outer reefs produce good catches of blue cod, sea perch and groper among many other species. Seafood is common on a Kaikoura menu as a result of the town’s well known fishing history. Remnants remain of Kaikoura’s whaling industry remain, with the oldest home dating back to 1860. Kaikoura is one of the many places in New Zealand that has retained its historical charm and this is reflected in the lovingly restored buildings that house Kaikoura accommodation, restaurants, cafes and motels.
Holiday parks, country style bed and breakfasts, backpackers and luxury lodes make up the remainder of accommodation choices. Kaikoura has a thriving art and craft community and the craft shops, art galleries and jewellery factories are highlighted on the Kaikoura Art Trail. Visit Kaikoura during the first Saturday in October and you are likely to see Kaikoura’s premium festival Seafest. The festival combines the flavours, sights and sounds of Kaikoura’s seafood history and is well worth a visit. Kaikoura prides itself in marine life preservation allowing visitors from around the world to enjoy the oceanic life experience as much as they do.