Kaikōura translates to 'crayfish' in Māori and is known as the crayfish capital of New Zealand.
It's also known for cycling trails, stunning scenic flights and whale watching. Here are the top 10 things to do in Kaikōura.
1. Go whale watching and encounter a marine giant
Home to these 20 metre long gentle giants, Kaikōura is the place to be to see giant sperm whales so close to shore. Sperm whales can be found along the Kaikōura coast all year round. Other whale species visit throughout the year, giving you a chance to witness the humpback whale migration between the months of June and July. Orcas can also be seen from December to March. See the whales by boat(opens in new window) or from the air by fixed-wing aircraft(opens in new window) or a helicopter flight(opens in new window).
2. Swim with dolphins
Kaikōura is privileged to be a world-famous marine mammal and wildlife destination. Watch or swim with the acrobatic dusky dolphins on a tour with Dolphin Encounter(opens in new window). Whether it's winter or summer, you have the chance to cruise along the stunning Kaikōura coastline and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of dolphins.
3. Paddle or pedal your way around Kaikōura Peninsula
Kaikōura Museum(opens in new window) offers a modern and relaxed environment with a contemporary and fun approach to telling the stories of Kaikōura’s natural, social and cultural journey. Learn more about the history of fishing and whaling and how it helped shape Kaikōura into the town it is today. Discover things that are uniquely Kaikōura such as footage of the Kaikōura Lights (their very own UFO story) and a fully restored cabin from the Taiaroa ship that sank in 1886.
5. Explore the hiking trails around Kaikōura
The breathtaking scenery of Kaikōura is best explored on foot with a great variety of coastal walks. Get out and about and enjoy one of the many walks including the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway(opens in new window). This 11.7-kilometre loop-walk crosses the peninsula's clifftop, giving you uninterrupted views of the Seaward Kaikōura Range and the stunning coastline.
6. Take a tour with Albatross Encounters
Traditionally known for its marine wildlife Kaikōura is also the perfect place to see a range of seabirds. Discover many species of albatross and pelagic birds on an Albatross Encounter(opens in new window) tour. See seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, gulls, shags and terns.
7. Get your adrenalin pumping on one of the mountain bike trails
Kaikōura offers a variety of spectacular mountain bike trails(opens in new window) to explore the varied majestic landscapes from rugged coastlines to mountain ranges. There are tracks for all levels of experience ranging from casual family trails such as the Kowhai River Bike Trail to challenging climb adventures such as taking on Mount Fyffe. The tracks are accessible all year round, but make sure to check the weather conditions beforehand.
8. Take the road less travelled on a 4WD adventure
For an inland adventure, head off-road on a 2.5-hour quad bike ride with Glenstrae Farm 4WD Adventures(opens in new window). These action-packed tours will take you into the farmland and native bush surrounding Kaikōura - with the opportunity to take in stunning views of the Kaikōura coastline, mountains and local wildlife. Full training on the quadbikes is provided before setting off, so no previous experience is required to fully enjoy this experience.
Enjoy spending quality time on a trek with the amazing, intelligent llamas at Kaikōura Llama Trekking(opens in new window). Choose between a taster llama trek, a one hour trek along the Kowhai River and through dense native woodland, or a half-day llama trek, a 3-hour trek as you explore Kaikōura Bay, beach and seal colony with an experienced tour guide.