Welcome to Kaikoura

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.

Top experiences in Kaikoura

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Kaikoura activities

$213.71 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch

Your day starts with pickup from your Christchurch hotel, then travel in a comfortable coach for about 2.5 hours to reach Kaikoura, taking a scenic road through the North Canterbury region.In Kaikoura, meet your boat for your whale-watching tour with expert local guides. As you cruise, learn about the town, its whaling history and its natural features. Not far offshore lies the Hikurangi Trench, which creates the upwelling that attracts an abundance of marine life. If you’re lucky, you can watch the whales breach, spout and lift their huge fins and tails out of the water.While the giant sperm whales are the stars of the show and live here year-round, you might also see New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins and, depending on the season, migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. Kaikoura’s waters also host the world's largest dolphins—the orca–and the world's smallest and rarest—Hector’s dolphins.On the feathered side of life, Kaikoura has the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand, with 13 species of albatross, 14 varieties of petrels and 7 types of shearwaters.After your whale-watching cruise, take a break for a tasty lunch at a local restaurant with great views of the snow-dusted mountains of the Seaward Kaikoura Range. Have the option to include the lunch in your tour at additional cost, or to purchase your own meal. Once you have refueled, hop back on the bus to visit a nearby New Zealand fur seal colony where you can observe the seals at close quarters. Then begin your return journey to Christchurch, stopping at a North Canterbury vineyard for a wine tasting as time allows. Your tour ends in the evening when your guide returns you to your hotel.

$241.28 Day Trips & Excursions

Full-Day Kaikoura Tour from Christchurch

This full-day tour includes a scenic drive from Christchurch over the Canterbury Plains before arriving in Kaikoura. Once in Kaikoura, make your way to a lookout to enjoy the breath-taking views. Next, make your way around to a seal colony before heading into Kaikoura for some free time to explore and maybe have some lunch. Then board a modern catamaran for an exciting whale watch tour. This tour offers views of the giant sperm whale. A typical whale watch may include fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins and endangered wandering albatross.Sit back and relax in comfort on your return journey to Christchurch.

$1209.87 Multi-day & Extended Tours

5-Day New Zealand North and South Island Highlights Trip

Day 1 - Auckland to Waitomo, RotoruaToday you will depart from Auckland and drive to the magical Waitomo Caves. Here you will have a guided tour of the caves, before taking a short boat ride along the river to the grotto. Be enchanted by the thousands of glow worms emitting tiny lights that twinkle in the darkness. Later, you drive to Rotorua, passing through the Fitzgerald Glade, a section of highway where native bush forms a canopy overhead. Overnight in Rotorua - Sudima Rotorua or SimilarDay 2 - RotoruaThis morning explore Rotorua's geothermal wonderland and discover the unique culture of New Zealand's Maori people. Enjoy a guided tour of Te Puia, see Rainbow Springs and watch the Agrodome Sheep Show. The rest of the day is at leisure and in the evening you might like to experience a Maori hangi (a traditional barbecue) and concert (at own expense). Overnight in Rotorua - Sudima Rotorua or SimilarDay 3 - Rotorua to WellingtonThere is more stunning scenery on offer today as you travel by coach to Wellington, passing Lake Taupo, Palmerston North and the Kapiti Coast. Overnight in Wellington - James Cook Grand Chancellor or similarDay 4 - Wellington via Picton to KaikouraThis morning, travel by Inter Islander Ferry, via Cook Strait to Picton. Then it’s all aboard the TranzCoastal train to Kaikoura. This is a spectacular train journey that passes through stunning coastal scenery and rugged mountain ranges. Overnight in Kaikoura - White Morph or similar Day 5 - Kaikoura to ChristchurchThe highlight this morning is a whale watching tour by boat or light aircraft. See the gentle giants of the sea and be thrilled as the giant sperm whales breach, and watch the dolphins and seals at play. Later in the afternoon you will drive to Christchurch where your tour concludes.Tour can also be operated in reverse, Christchurch to Auckland

$2147.42 Multi-day & Extended Tours

14-Day South Island Adventure Tour from Christchurch

Day 1: Depart Christchurch Airport and travel to Hanmer Springs to relax in the thermal hot pools.Day 2: Start the day with an invigorating walk up Conical Hill before we head to Kaikoura where you can spot marine life.Day 3: Travel north along rugged coastal roads to the seaside port town of Picton.Day 4: Sample a wine at a local vineyard before heading to the fabulous Abel Tasman National Park.Day 5: Today is a free day to explore the Abel Tasman National Park. Walk along the stunning golden sand beaches, hop on a sailboat or go kayaking.Day 6: Travel the scenic Arthur’s Pass to the West Coast. You visit Hokitika, famous for pounamu (jade), before your day ends in Franz Josef, home to Franz Josef Glacier. Day 7: The day is spent in Franz Josef so you can explore the glacier or walking trails. Day 8: Visit Lake Matheson, New Zealand’s most photographed lake, before heading to Mount Aspiring National Park where you go jet boating! Day 9: Doubtful Sound is a true treasure of New Zealand and today you will board a purpose-built boat for an overnight cruise. Look out for fur seals, penguins and dolphins. Day 10: Today head for the "adventure capital of the world", Queenstown. Queenstown is known for its nightlife with excellent restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and live music. Day 11 - 12: You have two free days to fully explore. Queenstown is a great place to spend a few days, no matter your past-time of choice. Some optional activities may include AJ Hackett Bungy, Canyon Swing, Skyline Gondola and Luging (own expense).  Day 13: Back on the bus, head for Wanaka to spend the morning on a scenic bike ride along the lakeside. After lunch, journey north to your next overnight stop at the base of New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. Day 14: Stop for a break on the shores of turqouise Lake Tekapo and you have the option to join a thrilling white water rafting adventure on the Rangitata River in the afternoon. Those not rafting will carry on to Christchurch, meeting the rafters later in the evening. This is where your tour comes to an end. Accommodation: Comfortable accommodation situated in great locations, staying in a range of cabins, lodges or local hostels

$217.16 Day Trips & Excursions

Kaikoura Albatross Encounter Tour from Christchurch

Kaikoura has one of the largest number of different types of seabirds within a small area than anywhere along the New Zealand coastlines. On your arrival in Kaikoura you may enjoy either an early lunch or have free time to explore Kaikoura before being transferred to Ocean Wings Albatross Encounter. Experience the sensation of getting close to the mighty albatross, one of the world's largest flight birds.There will also be the opportunity during the day to visit a seal colony where fur seals may be viewed at close quarters. This stop provides a great photo opportunity.

$103.42 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Whale Watching in Kaikoura by boat

Our office is located a scenic 5-minute walk from the Kaikōura town centre, once you are at The Whaleway Station you will check for your whale watching tour, you will then take part in a safety briefing before taking a short ride on our coach to the marina where your sea crew will be waiting for you. Once everyone is seated and the all clear is given you will begin your journey out to see what marine life you can in the 2.5 hours spent on the water.Kaikōura is the whale watching capital of New Zealand, every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikōura often hosts Orca - and is home to the world's smallest and rarest - the Hector's. Kaikōura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand.Our on-board plasma screens display a virtual animated whale watching tour while the tour is actually taking place! You will experience your own tour through the eye of the albatross in real-time. As your vessel approaches the Kaikōura Canyon the ocean will be 'removed' to show the sheer scale of the abyss that plunges kilometres beneath you.Once your tour returns back to our marina our coach will be there to take you back to our office where situated right on the seafront, Whale Watch Kaikōura’s - Flukes Café is (Kaikōura's best kept secret), offering a relaxed atmosphere with one of the best views in town. Flukes breakfast and brunch menu is on offer all day. Enjoy a cup of freshly-made coffee and sample the homemade cakes and savoury items along with daily blackboard specials to choose from.