Kaikoura - walking tracks and wildlife spotting

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The Shoreline Walk from Point Kean leads you to colonies of fur seals and sea birds. Pack a picnic and a camera.

Situated about halfway between Christchurch and Picton on the east coast of the South Island, Kaikoura is where the mountains almost reach the sea.

A branch of the Southern Alps, the Seaward Kaikoura Range rises almost directly out of the ocean in places and many of its peaks are snow-capped for most of the year. The highest mountain in the range is Manakau at 2610 metres, and the most imaginatively-named is Mount Horrible.

This unique combination of ocean and mountains offers stunning coastal alpine scenery and a host of eco-tourism activities including whale watching, dolphin swimming and seal snorkelling. However it won't cost you a thing to discover seal and bird colonies along the coast.

Ohau stream waterfall walk and seal pups

Baby seal pups can be found at the Ohau Stream just north of Kaikoura. Follow SH1 and as the road descends towards the coast look out for the signpost indicating the Ohau Stream and Waterfall Walkway.

You will see a large carparking area on the lefthand side of the road - keep going another 100m and on the right you will see another car parking area where the walk starts.

Shoreline Walk

The Shoreline Walk begins at Point Kean car park and follows the base of the cliffs across tidal rock shelves to South Bay. Fur seals, wading birds and nesting colonies of sea birds can be seen in this area.

Further on the route passes spectacular limestone outcrops and sea caves before arriving at Atia Point, known locally as The Sharkstooth. More seals and sea birds may be encountered here, so proceed with caution. Once around Atia Point, the route follows the foot of the cliffs to a junction with the Link Track.

From here you can return via the Shoreline Walk, take the Link Track up to the Cliff Top Walk or continue through South Bay to the Nga Niho Pa track which ends on Torquay Street.

Mount Fyffe

Another Kaikoura walking experience is the track up Mount Fyffe. You need to allow a whole day for this journey, but from the mountain's summit you can see forever - Banks Peninsula to the south and the North Island to the north.

Mount Fyffe is named for George Fyffe, a whaler who built Kaikoura's oldest remaining home - Fyffe House. This house is administered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and is open to the public.

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