Kaikoura (New Zealand)

Kaikoura Travel Guide and Trip Resources

Tom Hall

Everything nature has to offer

Kaikoura is a small seaside town in New Zealand's South Island
Famous for two things: seafood and whale spotting (getting up close with helicopters seems the thing to do)
The Seaward Kaikoura Mountains rise steeply behind the town

Kaikoura is a town of just about 2,000 people in the northern parts of Canterbury, itself a region in the north of New Zealand's South Island (still with us?). This coastal town is located at about a 1.5 hours drive from Blenheim and a 2.5 hours drive from Christchurch and is set in a land that seemingly has the best of everything nature has to offer: the coast, flat grasslands, roaring rivers and the towering alps behind it. The snow-capped Seaward Kaikoura Mountains nearly reach until the ocean here, and a few kilometer inland suddenly rise steeply.

When it comes to what to do within Kaikoura, the list is going to be fairly short. This is your typical quiet beach town, which in and of itself is very appealing to us. One thing in particular stands out as an attraction here and may be slightly different than what you are expecting: seafood. The Maori name for the place literally translates to ("a meal of crayfish"), an anecdote which may or may not interest you, but one thing is for sure: the locally caught fresh seafood is excellent and goes beyond just those delicious crayfish.

But a whole other question is what a visitor should do around town. The list of possible activities here is long and includes everything from horse back riding, (mountain) hiking, diving, surfing, swimming with dolphins and so on. However there is one standout activity that everyone associates with Kaikoura: whale watching. The waters around Kaikoura are full of giant sperm whales, and a popular way to get up close and personal with them is by helicopter. [Review by travelindicator]

Key info

  • Kaikoura is a city in New Zealand's region of Canterbury. It has a population of 2,040, is situated at an altitude of 16ft and the best airport to fly into is CHC (Christchurch International, Christchurch)
  • The main spoken language here is English, and the average English skill is high
  • Note Kaikoura is not a good point of entry for trips to New Zealand as it is not well internationally connected. Instead try entering through for instance Dunedin
  • The currency used in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Other cities in the region (Canterbury, New Zealand)


Kaikoura Weather

Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):

70 68 66 63 57 54 52 54 57 59 63 66

Historical average rainfall per month (inches):

1.9 2.3 3.6 3.2 2.8 3 3.1 3.1 2.8 2.9 2.4 2.1

More Kaikoura travel resources

If you want to read more, you can start with Lonely Planet and Wikitravel (or as we call them, the usual suspects). For local news and info you may want to look at the website of the Kaikoura District Council, while a nice breakdown of the place is given at 100% pure NZ and Must Do New Zealand. In our hunt for travel blogs we came across the dangerous business travel blog. Happy reading.

Kaikoura Attractions (Foursquare)

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Other travel destinations in New Zealand (by popularity)

Waiheke Island, Tongariro National Park, Auckland, Milford Sound, Wellington, Queenstown, Nelson, Hamilton, Christchurch, Hobbiton, Napier, Northland, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, Thames, Kaikoura, Dunedin [Browse all]