TOP 9 Must-See in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is a picturesque town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Even if the infrastructure of Kaikoura was heavily damaged by the earthquake in 2016, the town has recovered and ready to welcome every visitor! There are many walking tracks around the mountains and adorable beaches where to spot seals or even go for a whale watching! The Kaikoura Peninsula extends into the sea south of the town, and the views all around are just stunning! So here is our TOP 9 Must-See places in Kaikoura!

1. Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

This is something you definitely should do while you are in Kaikoura. The duration of the walk takes up to 3 hours return loop. The track is starting at Kaikoura i-Site. It`s not too intense, the trails are well maintained, sometimes missing some direction signs, but everything can be found easily. There are information panels along the way and viewpoints that will reveal the beauty of this place. You will also reach the Point Kean seal colony – but do not get too close to those big cute creatures! From there walk up onto the cliff top towards South Bay. And after South Bay Track, follow Tom’s track up over the arm of the peninsula and back into the township.

2. Kowhai Bike Trail

If you have a bicycle or you are planning to rent one, Kowhai Bike trail is a perfect option. It is a bike ride for around 2.5 – 4 hours, also starting at the Kaikoura i-Site. There is a well-formed track that is suitable for families! From Kaikoura i-Site turn right onto Killarney street, then left onto Scarborough street and down South Bay Track. In South Bay turn right following the road until you can turn off by the Racecourse on State Highway 1. Look for the Kaikoura cycle signage by the park bench that leads onto the limestone track. The trail follows its way between the road and ocean to the Kowhai Bridge.

3. Kaikoura Museum

Kaikoura Museum is one of New Zealand`s best provincial museums. This award-winning museum will bring you in Kaikoura’s natural, social and cultural journey. Here you will be able to get to know Kaikoura’s history from Maori and later European settlement through different objects and stories. Moreover, museum will introduce you to the unique nature of this place – Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where so many complex systems are so visually interconnected! Fossil collection, marine specimens, extensive collection of bird`s eggs and chronicles of the natural history will amaze you!

4. Emporium Brewery

Once you are in Kaikoura, let`s add here a beer brewery that will give you a nice possibility to relax after long day hiking. Well, if you wish to continue with activities, there is also a minigolf course! And not only award-winning Angry Sky Red IPA, but 8 kinds of different beers that all have been recognized in beer bars throughout New Zealand. If at the beginning Emporium Brewery was located in Christchurch, now it is relocated and ready to welcome you in Kaikoura!

5. Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours

Kaikoura is perfect place to discover ocean life like dolphins and even whales. The sperm whale watching here is perhaps the best and most developed in the world! It is also possible to swim with or near dolphins. In the Kaikoura township, you will find many tour companies that offer boat rides or heli-tours – choose the best and discover this wonderful place! Moreover, Kaikoura is also one of the best reasonably accessible places in the world to see open ocean seabirds like albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, including the Hutton’s shearwater which nests high in Kaikoura mountains!

6. Puhi Puhi Reserve

This is a picturesque reserve 12 km north of Kaikoura. You can get there by turning up the Puhi Puhi Valley gravel road and following it for 6 km. This is a flat loop track through a scenic reserve, lowland Podocarp forest. The native trees that reside here can be up to 1000 years old! The walk is easy 30-minute return loop that you will definitely enjoy!

7. Hinau Track

This is another hiking trail, 45 minutes loop walk. It is located 10-minute drive from the Kaikoura township. You must turn down Ludstone road which merges into Red Swamp Road. Then turn left onto Postmans Road and follow until the base of Mount Fyffe car park. This is a short and easy walk, suitable for families!

8. Fyffe-Palmer Track

This track is located 10-minute drive from Kaikoura township. The start of the walk is steep through farmland then the track takes you through the regenerating forest of Fyffe-Palmer Scenic Reserve. Enjoy the excellent views looking back over Kaikoura before you enter the forest! The walk is moderate and will take you around 1 hour and 15 minutes return loop.

9. Mt Fyffe

Mt Fyffe is located 10-minute drive from the Kaikoura township down the Ludstone Road which merges into Red Swamp Road. You need to turn left onto Postmans Road and follow it until the base of Mount Fyffe car park. The track winds up to fantastic views of Kaikoura’s Peninsula and farmland at 1602 metres above the sea level! Another option is to go to Mt Fyffe Hut (5 hours return) or the lookout point near a firepond (2 hours return). Both have stunning viewing opportunities. This is a hard walk that will take you around 8 hours return to the summit, so be prepared!

Do not miss this wonderful place! It was one of our favourites in the South Island, and this would be the one we would definitely visit again!


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