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Take SH1 129km southeast from Blenheim (or 180km north from Christchurch) and you’ll encounter Kaikoura, a pretty peninsula town backed by the snow-capped Seaward Kaikoura Range. Few places in the world are home to such a variety of easily spottable wildlife: whales, dolphins, NZ fur seals, penguins, shearwaters, petrels and several species of albatross live in or pass by the area.

Marine animals are abundant here due to ocean-current and continental-shelf conditions: the seabed gradually slopes away from the land before plunging to more than 800m where the southerly current hits the continental shelf. This creates an upwelling of nutrients from the ocean floor into the feeding zone.

In November 2016, the Kaikoura region was struck by a severe magnitude 7.8 earthquake, but following the reestablishment of badly damaged transport links, the town is once again easily reached and an essential destination for visitors to New Zealand.

Explore Kaikoura

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Kaikoura.

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