Things to do in Kaikōura

Kaikōura offers a diverse range of quality activities and other than Whale Watching, you can swim with dolphins and seals, cruise around the peninsula on a kayak, experience a Māori tour, fly your own plane, ride a horse or go out back on a quad bike to mention just a few.

Kaikōura also has a variety of quality accommodation styles on offer to suit all budgets such as luxury lodges, motels, motor lodges, holiday parks, hostels, B&B’s and Backpackers and if your into wining & dining Kaikōura has plenty on offer here to with Seafood common place on most menus around town. To find out more on what Kaikōura has to offer please visit

Kaikoura Peninsula Coastal Walks

Crystal clear rock pools and wild empty beaches. Walking Kaikōura 's scenic coastline will expose you to the world's cleanest ocean environment.

The Kaikōura Peninsula has clearly marked cliff-top and coastal walking tracks guiding you from lush open farmland to inter-tidal limestone shore platforms. A great opportunity to observe seals and dolphins, penguins and wading birds.

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Mt Fyffe Summit, Kaikōura

Kaikōura Mountain Walks

Breathtaking views await those walking the mountain trails of the hinterland as Kaikōura is the only place in New Zealand where such high ranges so abruptly meet the sea. The return walk to Mt Fyffe takes a day but is easily achieved by those of even moderate fitness. Trail maps are available from the Kaikōura Visitor Information Centre.

There is still plenty to discover in these incredible mountains. As recently as the 1990s two new species were found here - a giant weta and a lizard. Another recent discovery was the nesting habits of a local seabird, the Hutton's Shearwater. Every year, thousands of Hutton's Shearwaters lay eggs and raise chicks in deep burrows dug through the snow into the hard shale of the Seaward Kaikōura Ranges. No other seabird is known to nest at such high altitudes.

On the way to the mountains you will pass through dense native forests of Manuka, Kahikatea, Totara and Beech inhabited by New Zealand Wood Pigeon, South Island Robins, Fantails, Bellbirds and the Grey Warbler. You may also encounter introduced species such as wild pigs, chamois and deer. Mountain walks are an ideal way to fill in time if the sea is too rough for a NZ tour on a Whale Watch boat.

Things to do in Kaikoura. A person surfing in Kaikōura.

Surfing in Kaikōura

The Kaikōura district has some of the best year-round surf in New Zealand and is home to a number of national surfing champions. There is a local surf school for those who want to have a go and surfboards and surf gear can be bought in town.

Kaikōura is where resident surfer Brian O'Connor created his famous Paua Surfboard - a work of art now housed in Te Papa, the National Museum, Wellington. Kaikōura locals often surf and snowboard on the same day. Mt Lyford ski field is less than an hour away.

Winter has bought with it some amazing scenery for our tours, with the snow-capped mountains making for a jaw-dropping background for our guests’ photos. Last week’s whale watch trips had some spectacular sightings, including Humpback Whales being spotted playing with hundreds of Dusky Dolphins on Wednesday and Thursday! We sighted four Humpbacks on our tours this week as we continue to see them stop in for a quick visit to Kaikoura on their way to breed and give birth in Northern warmer waters.

Monday and Wednesday’s tours sighted pods of up to five Sperm Whale, with tours this week also spotting semi-resident Sperm Whales Tiaki, Tutu, Saddleback, Aotearoa and Matimati feeding in the Hikurangi Trench. Each of these whales can be distinguished by the different shaped dorsal fins, tail shapes, marks and scars they have which we get a good view of when they are on top of the water oxygenating and also when they dive down to feed.

When time allowed, our tours have also seen pods of Dusky and Hector’s Dolphins, New Zealand Fur Seals and various marine birds including the Shy Mollymawk and the Caspian Tern. These birds look like gulls, with dark wing tips and large red bills. In New Zealand, Caspian Terns frequent sheltered bays and harbours of the main islands, but are also seen regularly at inland lakes and rivers. As Caspian Trends don’t breed in Kaikōura, the birds seen here are likely to be from the breeding colonies at the Wairau lagoons or Lake Ellesmere.

Don’t forget, the annual photography competition for Kaikōura’s 48 Hours in Kaikoura takes place next weekend on the 5th and 6th of August so make the trip and bring your camera to capture Kaikōura’s amazing natural wonders and marine life. This year there will be new seascapes and landscapes featured for the first time since the November Earthquake which will make for some new and interesting competition. There are categories for both amateurs and professional photographers so there’s no excuse not to join in on the fun!


There is a possibility of short delays and it will be 30km/hour through parts of the route. Inland Route 70 remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

As we enter into the cooler winter months it is a good reminder to take extra care on the roads and to check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling.

Progress is continuing to be made on the repair of the Kaikōura Marina, with the modified trailer and public jetty now being used for launching our vessel Tohora. This is due to tidal restrictions and repair work as a result of the coastline lifting by +1.0m. All our berths have now been removed. This is an end of an era but we are excited to see our new and improved marina once it is completed! The use of the modified trailer and public jetty will continue until further notice. It is anticipated that the Kaikōura Marina will be fully restored in October 2017.

Currently our available tour times are based around the tide times on the day and may differ from the tour times originally advertised, please bear with us as we continue to work toward being fully operational again. For an update on the tour times available, please contact our Customer Service team directly either by email on, phone +64 3 319 6767 or free phone 0800 655 121 (within NZ) and they will be able to help you with your inquiry.  Please note we are operating at a reduced capacity in the interim with up to 3 tours available per day. Please contact our team prior to arriving in Kaikōura to secure a space on one of our tours and to save disappointment.


Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 


IntercityHasslefree Tours & Canterbury Leisure Tours have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch, as well as Kiwi Experience now having the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers.

Progress on the work being done on roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on this dedicated KAIKOURA EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Friday. Work is also starting to take place on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.