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Upper South Island loop road trip, Kaikoura, Marlborough returning to Nelson


Family Sea kayaking off Kaikoura Family Sea kayaking off Kaikoura

Kaikōura is the meeting point for the ocean and mountains with a picturesque fishing village reimagined as a tourist destination offering marine experiences from dolphin encounters to whale watching.  All of this washed down with local wines and a plate of succulent freshly harvested crayfish. Kaikōura’s drawcard is marine mammal encounters – whales, fur seals and dolphins live permanently in the coastal waters. There are ocean going birds and local seals to observe on your foreshore walks. Whale watching trips leave the town several times a day.

TIP: suffer from seasickness or motion nausea then be prepared for sometimes rough Southern Ocean swell.

Pair of pied cormorants Kaikoura

6 must-do activities in Kaikōura:

  • Go whale-watching by boat or take to the air throughout the year.
  • Swim with or simply watch dolphins on a dolphin encounter.
  • Foreshore walks are either guided or self-guided to observe marine life. Point Kean Seal Colony is dotted with lazing fur seals on the rocks at the end of the peninsula. Remember to give the fur seals at least 20 m between yourself and the seal.  Do not position yourself between the seal and the sea.
  • Take a bird watching tour to view seabirds, albatross, molly-mawks, petrels and many more.
  • Kaikōura Museum with interactive exhibits about fish and marine life, the town’s resilience after the 2016 earthquake that shook the town into temporary isolation. The Museum has an excellent gift shop focused on New Zealand memorabilia.
  • Fyffe House, Kaikōura’s oldest surviving building and the last remaining part of the Waiopuka whaling station, Fyffe House’s whale-bone foundations were laid in 1844. Fyffe house has a recreated nineteenth century garden worth a detour.

Note: The Kaikoura Ohua stream walkway and falls is closed due to earthquake damage; there is now a marked lookout for seals and their pups nearby.

Kaikōura Museum @NZPlaces


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