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The Top Things to do in Kaikoura

Featuring a delightful blend of both land and marine activities, Kaikoura offers something for anyone who's got an appreciation for the outdoors. The extensive list of things to do in Kaikoura includes whale and dolphin-watching experiences just off the coast, coloured scuba diving spots, caving adventures and scenic hiking opportunities. The things to do in Kaikoura, New Zealand, prove why this region is growing in popularity every year. Book your experiences below with a few simple clicks and transform your Kaikoura visit into something extraordinary.

Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura

A charming, small seaside town that more than punches above its weight in terms of both gorgeous views and enjoyable experiences, Kaikoura on NZ’s south island is a place where mountains meet the ocean, providing some spectacular scenery for visitors and residents alike.

A haven for marine life in particular, Kaikoura has a deserved reputation for its animal encounters and inquisitive aquatic locals. An essential stop on any New Zealand trip, ensure you get the best out of a visit to Kaikoura 10 top things to do around the region.

Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Whale Watching

1. Whale Watching

Formerly a hub for whaling in the distant past, Kaikoura is now widely regarded as one of the best Sperm Whale watching venues in the world – and one that remains far more accessible to the public than similar alternatives.
Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Ohau Waterfalls

2. Ohau Waterfalls

Another living example of why the Kaikoura region is renowned as a premier NZ hotspot for wildlife, this popular – and free – attraction is a magical little animal encounter entirely bereft of any kind of cage or enclosure.
Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Kaikoura Rock Sunset

3. Kaikoura Rock Sunset

Location: Kaikoura Peninsula

Home to what is arguably one of the best sunrises and sunsets in all of New Zealand, the view as the sun rises and goes down over Kaikoura is amazing, with its colourful glow enhancing what is already a wonderfully scenic panorama.

With breathtaking hues of pink and orange, it’s a simple yet enchanting display of nature at work.

For a top vantage point, head to your choice of the Kaikoura Rocks, Kaikoura lookout on Scarborough Street, or the Point Kean viewpoint, for a spectacular scene as the sky’s light and shadow dapples over the rugged rocks and glistening water.

Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Dolphin Swims

4. Dolphin Swims

Long said to be one of life’s true “bucket list” items, the dolphins around Kaikoura are of the Dusky variety – a species renowned for the tendency towards some truly acrobatic displays.
Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Albatross Encounters

5. Albatross Encounters

Wildlife lovers will enjoy the chance to get up close with the local wildlife on 2.5-hour Albatross and sea bird watching tours in Kaikoura. These wildlife cruises run twice a day at 9am and 1pm and are a Kaikoura activity the whole family can enjoy.
Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Point Keal Seal Colony

6. Point Keal Seal Colony

Location: Kaikoura Peninsula

One of the signature highlights along the aforementioned Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, the Point Kean Seal Colony is often home to dozens of these lovely critters.

With easy accessibility from the Point Keal car park you will be treated to incredible panoramic views of the Kaikoura coastline and township against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains; photographers will want to ensure they bring their camera along for the journey!

The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway features a cheeky seal colony at Point Kean. The vantage point from the cliff walkway will give you an aerial view over the seal colony.

The seals are in the area entirely of their own volition – without any enclosures as they are wild animals – therefore visitors are asked to keep at least a 10 metre distance from the animals for both your safety and theirs.

This is truly an incredible experience with the opportunity for close encounters with seals in a natural setting.

Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

7. Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Location: Peninsula Walkway, Kaikoura

A wonderful way to take in all the beauty of Kaikoura’s mountain-and-sea environment completely free of charge, this three-hour return journey will take you along the Kaikoura Peninsula via a well-maintained brick walkway.

With various stops along the way at the likes of wildlife clusters, lookouts and more, you’ll be able to experience the region’s variety firsthand.

This three-hour return journey will take you along the Kaikoura Peninsula via a well-maintained walkway. Catch a glimpse of migrating whales, sea birds, dolphins and seals!

This walk is suitable for all ages and fitness levels and can be explored at your own, comfortable pace, taking the time to read about the region’s environment and natural history on a number of curated plaques distributed throughout.

The main walk begins in the Kaikoura township and offers several potential offshoot walks to take as well, making it easy to create your own ideal walk.

Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Dine out at Nin's Bin

8. Dine out at Nin's Bin

Location: 7371, 2017 SH 1, Half Moon Bay, Kaikoura

If you’re a fan of seafood – as most are who put Kaikoura on their New Zealand travel itinerary – this little dining hub is an essential stop.

Located right on the waterfront around 20 minutes north of Kaikoura following a gorgeous drive.

If you’re a fan of seafood this little dining hub in Kaikoura is an essential stop. Nin’s Bin has long been one of the most popular eateries in the region, and a favourite amongst locals.

Serving up a delicious menu of only two items; mussels and crayfish (along with some quality chips as well), there are few better simple pleasures Kaikoura offers than ordering some fresh seafood, plopping down on a table in the sunshine, and watching wild seals lazing on the shoreline nearby. And it’s very reasonably-priced, too.

Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Kaikoura Seaplane Flight

9. Kaikoura Seaplane Flight

Taking whale watching to higher elevations for a unique perspective of Kaikoura's scenery and whale population during a 30-minute seaplane flight.
Top 10 Things to do in Kaikoura - Maori Leap Cave

10. Maori Leap Cave

Location: Kaikoura, NZ

For a combined dose of natural beauty and historic insight, embark on a guided tour around this intriguing limestone sea cave to the south of Kaikoura proper.

First discovered in 1958, Maori Leap Cave has now become a top tourist attraction, with 45-minute guided tours through the cave run on the hour throughout the day.

The cave is made up of stalactites, stalagmites, straws, flowstone and cave coral, making for some interesting discovery and observing its various sea-wave-carved shapes and formations.

With the help of a tour guide you’ll learn all about this rare natural occurrence that ranks as only one of three of its kind in the known world.

Joining in the tour is mandatory due to safety reasons and self-exploration is not possible, however, the reasonable price makes for an enjoyable way to soak in millions of years of history in a single place.