Kaikoura, New Zealand

Spend some time with the locals (whales, dolphins and seals) in Kaikoura and enjoy the unique marine system and beautiful mountain views.


Kaikoura is located on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.  The town is easily accessed with multiple transportation options:

  • Flying: The closest airport to Kaikoura is Christchurch International Airport, which is 2.5 hours’ drive from Kaikoura. 
  • Coaches and shuttles: There are coach and shuttle options available from South Island destinations with Atomic Shuttles.  
  • Train: The Coastal Pacific Train travels from Picton to Christchurch with stops in Blenheim and Kaikoura.  
  • Driving routes: Kaikoura is on State Highway 1 and easily accessed by driving from other destinations in the South Island.  The Alpine Pacific Triangle is a beautiful driving route that connects Christchurch, Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs if you have time to explore the area.   

Marine life

There is no shortage of marine life in Kaikoura with dolphins, seals and whales resident in the waters. 

  • Dolphins: Go swimming with the dolphins meet Kaikoura’s resident dusky dolphins.  The dolphin pods can reach up to the hundreds and they are often seen jumping and splashing around.  If you don’t want to swim with the dolphins, you can go on a dolphin watching tour which is still a great way to see the dolphins up close and the magnificent views of Kaikoura.
  • Whales: Sperm whales live in Kaikoura year-round. Orca and other species of whales are seen throughout the year including the Humpback .  Companies in Kaikoura offer boat, plane or helicopter tours to see the whales up close.   
  • Seals: The playful creatures can be spotted basking on the shoreline and playing in the waters on the Kaikoura coastline.  See the seals up close on a seal swimming tour or kayaking tour.


Kaikoura is a great place for bird watching. Many bird species including the endangered Hutton’s Shearwater can be spotted. This bird is only found in New Zealand and has just 2 breeding colonies high in
the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. Albatross can also be seen in Kaikoura and Albatross tours are available.


Kaikoura’s Maori name means “meal of crayfish” and you will have a selection of restaurants offering the delicious crayfish (lobster).  Kaikoura is a seafood-lovers paradise with fresh fish, mussels, and paua.  The annual Seafest celebration showcases Kaikoura’s best food and wine and features entertainment for a fun filled event.  

Kaikoura is the premier destination in the South Island to experience New Zealand’s marine life and a great escape for a holiday or trip.   

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