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5 Must-Do Activities in Kaikoura

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5 Must-Do Activities in Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a vibrant seaside town located between Christchurch and Picton. Situated by a stretch of water that can only be described as an underwater paradise, Kaikoura is a destination not to be missed with its stunning scenery, rich history and abundance of marine life.

Visitors are spoilt for choice in this region so here are some of the best activities that Kaikoura has to offer:

  1. Marine Encounter

Kaikoura’s waters are teeming with New Zealand fur seals and dusky dolphins. Kit yourself out in wetsuit and fins and explore the plethora of marine life in this underwater playground with two locally owned companies.

Seal Swim Kaikoura takes swimmers into little bays, where the curious seals are keen to check out their visitors’ and showcase their acrobatic abilities. A tip – survey the golden kelp for bubbles, as this is a sign that a seal will soon emerge. If the water gets too cold, enjoy the view from the boat. Observing the hundreds of seals relaxing and playing on the surrounding rocks is an absolute delight. Tours generally run from October until May, depending on weather conditions.

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Swim with the dusky dolphins in the open ocean with Encounter Kaikoura. This is no ordinary dolphin swim – participants could be swimming in a pod of between 100 to 800 dolphins. The friendly and curious dolphins dive, sing and if you are lucky, circle swimmers. The water can be a little rough but floatation devices such as kickboards and noodles are stored onboard for timid swimmers. This tour operates all year.

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  1. Peninsula Seal Colony

New Zealand fur seals are a common sight around the Kaikoura Peninsula and can be found lazing on the footpath or meticulously grooming themselves in the shade of the boats.

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While seal colonies hug the coastline, the peninsula seal colony provides a unique opportunity to view these magnificent mammals up close. Resting on the rocks at low tide or sitting in the carpark at high tide, the seals constantly enchant visitors. Most of the seals are male and for safety reasons, it is recommended to keep a distance of 10 metres from the seals located in this area.

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From the carpark, a steep track leads to the Point Kean Lookout, offering stunning panoramic views of the coastline and the seal colony below.

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  1. Oahu Waterfall and Seal Pup Nursery

Don’t miss the seal pup nursery at Oahu Waterfall. Gorgeous seal pups frolic and play in the pools at the base of this small charming waterfall. Located 25km north of Kaikoura along Highway 1, the waterfall is an easy ten-minute walk from the carpark. While the best time of year to see the seal pups is between April and October, you may be lucky enough to spot the seals outside these months.

 

  1. Whale Watching

Kaikoura has had a long history with the whales, from its whaling stations in the 1800s through to tourism today. Sperm Whales are year round residents and steal the show on the whale watch tour. Depending on the time of year, you may also encounter other species including the Humpback, Blue or Southern Right Whale. The whales share the water with fur seals and dusky dolphins so keep your eyes peeled!

Whale Watch Kaikoura operate tours year round. There are at least three tours a day, with a fourth tour added between November and March.

 

  1. Fyffe House

Built between 1844 and 1860 on a foundation of whale bones, Fyffe house is the oldest house in Kaikoura and provides an insight into the town’s whaling history. This pink house, with its fabulous water views, is all that remains from the ‘Waiopuka Fishery’, Kaikoura’s first whaling station.

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Walk in the footsteps of the Fyffe, Goodall and Low families as you stroll through the house and garden. The dioramas, audio stories and early domestic, fishing and farming objects highlight the tough lives these early settlers led.

The whale bone foundations and the Pou Tangaroa carving, which depicts the story of the Southern Right whale and the people of Kaikoura, can be found in the garden. Entry is $10 for adults.

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Touched by a Seal

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