Explore the South: Kaikoura

Photography by: Getty, Raquel Smith, ChristchurchNZ, Stephen Goodenough


Christchurch is central to many of the South Island’s most amazing destinations, Kaikoura is just 2.5 hours’ drive from the Garden City

181km – around 2.5 hours’ drive

If you haven’t visited Kaikoura yet, now is the time to do it! This tiny coastal township has had a tough time over the past few years thanks to Mother Nature’s recent shake-up, but today Kaikoura is well and truly back on its feet.

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Kaikoura is home to some of the most amazing wildlife experiences you could hope to enjoy. Head out with Whale Watch Kaikoura to see humpbacks, giant sperm whales, orcas, dolphins, seals and albatrosses up close.

It’s an unforgettable experience, and winter is a good time to see them – just be sure to rug up warm first! If you enjoy seafood, you’ll be well catered to with the likes of Nin’s Bin, where you can tuck into a freshly caught and cooked crayfish or some plump and delicious mussels.

Another nice spot is Café Encounter – it’s right on the waterfront so you can enjoy the serene views while you have lunch or coffee. And if you’re just in town for a quick stop and you’re looking for a spot to park up and stretch your legs, drive along Fyffe Quay to Point Kean.

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At low tide you can walk along the shoreline, or you can head up to the viewpoint and take in some of the best panoramas in town. Point Kean is home to a seal colony, so have your camera ready – but remember to keep a safe distance.

If you’re in Kaikoura over the last few weeks of June, join in on the Matariki celebrations. There will be a night market and light display on Friday 21 June, 5pm-8pm, and the Kaikoura Schools Cultural Festival on 27 June, 10am-2pm.

Stop on the way

  • Cheviot – a great little township on SH7 with some lovely boutique stores to browse through

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