What Makes Kaikoura Special

Is it worth staying in Kaikoura?

Nestled on the rugged east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Kaikoura is a gem that often goes unnoticed. With its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich Maori heritage, it offers an authentic Kiwi experience that you won’t find in the country’s more tourist-heavy spots. 

But is Kaikoura really worth staying in? 

Yes. Kaikoura is worth staying in if you enjoy spectacular scenic views, adventure activities, picturesque beaches, a tranquil town, and a friendly community that warmly welcomes you into the town.

Let’s dive more into the reasons why it’s worth staying in the charming town of Kaikoura. 

Kaikoura’s spectacular natural beauty makes the town worth staying in

Kaikoura’s magnificence lies in its diversity. The town is a harmonious blend of rugged shorelines, lush mountainous views, and abundant marine reserves. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or someone seeking peace and tranquillity, Kaikoura’s spectacular natural beauty will captivate your heart and soul.

When it comes to scenic things to do in town, checking out the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway should be at the top of your list. This scenic trail offers panoramic views of the town’s rugged coastline and thriving seal colonies.

The Lavendyl Lavender Farm is another notable attraction, offering the chance to immerse yourself in the soothing aroma of lavender while enjoying the tranquil rural surroundings.

Kaikoura is worth staying in due to the exciting activities

Kaikoura offers an array of adventure activities guaranteed to thrill any adrenaline junkie. Here are some of our favourite adventure activities that make a stay here worth it!

Whale Watching 

Kaikoura is celebrated as a premier spot for its whale-watching tours. These tours offer an unmissable opportunity to see giant sperm whales in their natural environment, making every tour a unique experience.

Unlike many other whale-watching locations around the world, Kaikoura is unique in that it offers year-round sightings of giant sperm whales. These magnificent creatures are the main attraction and are known to reside in the deep underwater canyons off the Kaikoura coast throughout the year.

While sperm whales steal the show, Kaikoura’s marine spectacle doesn’t end there. Depending on the season, you might also spot other types of whales. 

You might see orcas (killer whales) from December to March, while June through July is a great time to spot humpback whales. The humpback, blue, and southern right whales are typically visible between May and October.

Swimming with Dolphins

This coastal town on the South Island allows you the opportunity to swim with dusky dolphins in their natural habitat, making it a must-visit destination for marine life enthusiasts. Dolphin Encounters is the most commonly used company for dolphin swimming tours amongst Kiwis and tourists. 

What makes the dolphin encounters in Kaikoura so special is the respect for these marine creatures. The tours operate on the dolphins’ terms, ensuring a safe and ethical interaction. 

This approach allows you to witness the playfulness and intelligence of these animals up close without causing them any harm or stress. While the best time to see dolphins in Kaikoura is between October and May, dusky dolphins frequent Kaikoura’s waters throughout the year. 

If you’re not keen on swimming, don’t worry. You can still join the tour and watch these magnificent creatures from the boat. 

Helicopter Tours

Viewing this coastal town from a helicopter provides a unique vantage point that is simply unparalleled. You can appreciate the full extent of Kaikoura’s beauty from the air—its rugged coastline, the deep blue sea, and majestic mountains.

You even may have the opportunity to see an entire whale from head to tail as you fly over their natural habitat. This unique experience is not only awe-inspiring but also offers excellent opportunities for photography.

While whales are the star attraction, they’re not the only spectacle you’ll enjoy on a Kaikoura helicopter tour. Depending on your chosen tour, you might also fly over the stunning Kaikoura Seaward Ranges, make a summit landing for 360-degree views, or even enjoy a picnic at altitude.

Llama Trekking

Llama trekking in Kaikoura offers a unique way to explore the region’s natural beauty. The treks are led by experienced guides who ensure that you have a memorable adventure with these gentle creatures.

So whether you’re looking for a short, leisurely walk or a more extended exploration, Kaikoura has got you covered. 

You can choose between a 1-hour taster trek, where you’ll visit the Kowhai river valley and riverbank, abundant with native woodland and wildlife. Or the more popular half-day trek takes you on a beach walk along Kaikoura Bay, offering spectacular snow-topped mountain views.

The half-day trek also includes a visit to the local seal colony, where you can observe these marine animals in their natural habitat. You’ll also get the chance to spend quality time with your woolly trekking companion, who can carry your belongings in saddlebags.

Kaikoura is worth staying in for its picturesque beaches

Framed by the snow-capped Kaikoura Ranges, the town’s beaches are a sight to behold. From the pebbly shores of Kaikoura Peninsula to the sandy stretches of Goose Bay, each beach offers a unique experience.

Kaikoura’s beaches are not just about sunbathing and picnics. They also serve as gateways to the town’s diverse marine life. It’s not uncommon to see playful seals basking on the rocks of Point Kean or dolphins frolicking in the waves off South Bay—these beaches offer front-row seats to nature’s show.

For those who love to explore underwater worlds, Kaikoura’s beaches provide excellent snorkelling opportunities. The clear waters around the peninsula are teeming with marine life, including various species of fish, octopus, and crayfish.

The tranquillity of the town makes Kaikoura worth staying in

Kaikoura’s charm lies in its tranquillity, a stark contrast to the busy tourist hubs of Queenstown or Rotorua. The town has a relaxed, laid-back vibe that allows you to unwind and escape the stresses of everyday life.

Whether it’s strolling along the quiet beaches, enjoying a leisurely meal at a local café, or simply watching the sunset over the mountains, the peaceful rhythm of life in Kaikoura is infectious. The town is also surrounded by nature, further enhancing its serene ambience. 

Kaikoura is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on one side and the majestic Seaward Kaikoura Range on the other, offering panoramic views that soothe the soul. But when the sun goes down, Kaikoura’s tranquillity takes on a new dimension. 

With minimal light pollution, the town offers some awesome stargazing. Looking up at the star-studded sky, away from the noise and distractions of city life, is an experience that embodies the peaceful essence of Kaikoura.

The welcoming locals make Kaikoura worth staying in 

Kaikoura’s residents, known for their friendly and welcoming nature, are one of the town’s greatest assets. As soon as you step into this coastal town, you’re greeted with genuine smiles and open hearts. 

Whether it’s a shop owner, a café barista, or a passerby on the street, everyone in Kaikoura seems to embody the Kiwi spirit of hospitality.