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Best known for its whale watching, Kaikoura (pop 4,000) is rebuilding after a devastating 2016 earthquake and then a lack of visitors since 2020.

Located 129km southeast of Blenheim and 180km north of Christchurch, this is a great spot to stay if you’re into marine wildlife. An abundance of nutrients have made the seas off Kaikoura a popular feeding area for whales, dolphins, seals, penguins and seabirds.

Services & transport

There are plenty of places to stay, eat and drink in the township, which sits on a peninsula, stretching southeast into the Pacific Ocean.

For those without their own wheels, the Coastal Pacific scenic train links Kaikoura with Picton and Christchurch. InterCity buses also come through, heading both north and south.

Practical Info Practical Info icon

Kaikoura i-SITE Visitor Information Centre - West End, Kaikoura (this entry’s map location)

Dolphin Encounter

Swim with Dusky dolphins

Emporium Brewing

Try Kaikoura’s local brew

Point Kean Seal Colony

Wildlife up close & personal

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Near-guaranteed whale sightings

Text © Craig McLachlan

Image by Steve Watson