Two days with Kaikoura
Discover an area rich in Maori culture & history, where majestic mountains plunge into the Pacific Ocean and whales, dolphins, seals and sea birds flourish. Kaikoura is an internationally renowned whale watching hot spot, and one of the only places in the world where Sperm whales can be seen almost every day. Feast on fresh local crayfish at a roadside stall to top off a truly world class nature experience.
Christchurch to Kaikoura (2. 5 hours - 181 Km)
Leave Christchurch early and make a day out of the drive. The two and half hours from Christchurch to Kaikoura is a third of the Alpine Pacific Triangle and is a day’s worth of activities in itself!
Grab breakfast on the road at Pukeko Junction, 40 minutes into your journey along SH1. Foodies journey from all over Canterbury for their unique cabinet food and breakfast,especially the eggs benedict!.
If you’re after something a little stronger than just coffee, continue down the road to Copper Road Cafe and Restaurant to wash down gourmet pizza with a pale ale or stout.
Emerging from the Hundalees mountain range you’ll join the Pacific Ocean and it won’t leave your sight for the duration of the trip. The rocky coast adjacent to the road is littered with sea life and on a sunny day you’ll see seals lounging on the rocks. But spotting seals and the occasional dolphin while dodging traffic is difficult, so find a place to pull over and soak in the coastal setting.
The Coastal Pacific train journey
If you’re travelling in the summer months, soak up the scenery aboard the Coastal Pacific train journey instead. From the comfort of world class coaches relax as you glide over the Waimakariri River and cut through the rugged Kaikoura coastline, with dolphins and seals visible from your seat. Leaving at the crack of dawn the Costal Pacific will make it to the eco-tourism capital of New Zealand just in time for brunch, leaving you energised to swim with dolphins and explore the seas.
Day 1 – Kaikoura
Upon arrival check out the main street, it personifies the townships eclectic population of fishermen, farmers, artists and craftspeople.
Kaikoura boasts an impressive range of accommodation options catering for all budgets and levels of comfort. The most unique of these is Hapuku Lodge, unwind in a luxury tree hut suite 30ft above ground in the canopy of a native Manuka grove overlooking the mountains and surf of the Kaikoura Coast.
Once you’re settled in return to town and head left along the beach toward Kaikoura’s definitive wildlife experience, Whale Watch. Observe sperm whales year-round, as well as the occasional humpback, blue and minke whales all against the dramatic back drop of the Kaikoura Ranges.
Day 2 - Kaikoura
You’ve stared at the ocean for long enough, now it’s time to get in it! Swim with the dusky dolphins renowned for their acrobatic ability and playful nature with Encounter Kaikoura.
Kai means ‘food’ & koura, ‘crayfish’ so enjoying crayfish and mussels from a road-side caravan seems a fitting end to your time in town. Nin’s Bin is known to every traveller who’s driven through Kaikoura and it has been operating from its seaside location for 40 years!
After you’re filled up on seafood at Nin’s travel onwards to the Ohau Stream Walk for your final dose of marine life before you head home. What makes this walk different than most isn’t the water, but what’s in it. Dozens of seal pups frolic in the waterfall pool and stream year-round so ensure you’ve got room on your camera because you won’t able to resist their big eyes and clumsy manner. Sorry you can’t take them with you back to Christchurch!