Struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in November last year, it might leave you wondering whether you can or should visit Kaikoura. The answer is most certainly yes!
At present all roads to Kaikoura are open, except for SH 1 from Picton, and there are some night time restrictions on SH1 from Christchurch.
Although this coastal town is still recovering from the earthquake, there are plenty of things to do in Kaikoura. Here is my list of things you should check out:
Kaikoura is mostly known for its marine life. The Kaikoura Canyon provides a unique underwater habitat attracting many sea creatures to the area. The canyon starts just 500 metres off the Kaikoura coastline and plunges to depths of more than two kilometres at the edge of the continental shelf just a few hundred metres out to sea. Because the canyon is close to shore, you have a great chance of spotting seals, dolphins, whales and sea birds. Several tour operators give you the opportunity to get up close to these animals.
There are so many great ways of going whale watching! These majestic creatures can be seen at sea, viewed from a boat, or from the sky, looking down from a helicopter or aeroplane.
Taking a swim with dolphins in Kaikoura is a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. These dolphins are not trained or fed by humans: you will be the one entertaining the dolphins, not the other way around! If you don’t feel like swimming, watching the dolphins from the boat is great fun too. Book your swim with Dolphin Encounter
If you’re up for some more swimming? There’s swimming with seals too!
You can encounter many albatross species all year round on one of the Albatross Encounter cruises. This will also allow you to see petrels, shearwaters, gulls, shags and terns.
Put your wallet away and explore the Kaikoura Peninsula for free - take a walk. Walk along the coast on the Esplanade, onto Fyffe Quay, until you get to Point Kean carpark/viewpoint. You will be rewarded with a seal colony. You can walk up to the rocks at low tide, but remember to keep your distance, as seals can be aggressive if disturbed.
From the carpark, the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is easily accessible, with spectacular views in all directions. The whole walkway should take you about 3 hours (11.7kms), with enough time to enjoy the area.
A popular hike in the area is the hike up Mount Fyffe. On a clear day, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the Kaikoura plains and peninsula from the top. To the summit is an 8 hour return hike. For those who have less time, you can hike up to Mt Fyffe Hut (5 hours return), or the lookout point, just an hour above the Mount Fyffe car park.
Opposite the i-SITE is the recently opened Kaikoura Museum, where you can learn more about Kaikoura’s diverse natural, social and cultural history.