3 days itinerary in Kaikoura

One of the most prettiest places I have ever visited in New Zealand is Kaikoura. We had a long weekend for Anzac day and I had planned to visit New Zealand. After discussing with two of my friends Vijay and Adarsh who also wanted to join me for this travel, we booked the flight tickets to Kaikoura.

Are you a budgeted traveler like me? Read Backpacking in South Island to visit places in the South Island on a budget.

About Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a beautiful coastal town on the South Island of New Zealand. It is about 3 hours drive from Christchurch and is definitely a place to be for people who look for adventures in water sports and activities.

Kaikoura provides ample opportunities to view and witness the beautiful marine life. Its a place where humans can get up close to the dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, sperm whales, and sometimes penguins too. 

How to get to Kaikoura?

  • Kaikoura is around 3 hours drive from Christchurch. The nearest airport is at Christchurch and there are flights between Sydney and Christchurch. Jetstar is the budgeted airline.
  • Intercity runs buses between the major cities and towns in New Zealand. There is a bus between Christchurch and Kaikoura.
  • There is also a seasonal train called the Coastal Pacific that runs between Christchurch and Kaikoura. Refer Kaikoura website for more details.

3 days itinerary

We were in Kaikoura for 3 days and below is our itinerary.

  • Note that the below itinerary does not include the travel time from Christchurch to Kaikoura and return.
  • Check individual websites for updated prices, timings and availability.

Day 1 – Whale watching scenic flight

The highlight of day 1 was the whale watching scenic flight that we had booked. It was a 20 minutes flight ride to see the sperm whales from a bird’s eye view.

Vijay described the experience as: “Became a bird for a while and enjoyed watching the massive Sperm Whale along with the beautiful coastal views.

Adarsh described the experience as: “Sitting in the cockpit next to the pilot 👩‍✈️ and watching these majestic creatures from a bird’s eye view was something spectacular!

What I felt was: “This is definitely one of the coolest things I have done so far. I am a big fan of watching whales. I have seen the humpback whales many times from the cruise. But this was my first experience to see: 1. Whales from the flight and 2. Seeing the sperm whale. It definitely is a must-do activity when in Kaikoura.

3 days itinerary in Kaikoura
Sperm whale captured from the whale watching scenic flight
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Day 2 – Swimming with dolphins

This was the best day of our trip among the 3 days in Kaikoura. The day was special because it was Vijay’s birthday and he wanted to spend his special day swimming with the dolphins.

Vijay described the experience as “Beautiful experience to swim with Dolphins in clear water. Chasing and following dusky Dolphins was lots of fun. I would love to do that again.

What I felt was: “Oh-my-God! Are you kidding me! They were the wild dusky dolphins, one of the cutest living things on Earth. And here I was swimming with those cute things – I must have definitely been to heaven.

Day 3 – Kayaking with seals

The third day was dedicated to the water activity as well. Vijay and I had selected to kayak in the ocean with the seals and dolphins. After our induction and briefing, we had headed out to the ocean. The ocean was calm and we were surely enjoying the pretty views of the ocean, when suddenly we had had dolphins next to our kayaks. It was truly magical.

Vijay described the experience as: “If you wanna just relax and enjoy the beautiful ocean view, Kayaking is a must-do activity. Refreshing.

What I felt was: “Picture this – it’s a warm sunny morning, the ocean is calm, lots of fur seals swimming casually around and you are in a kayak, paddling around these seals. Isn’t it perfect? Well, it gets better when you see unexpected visitors like dolphins and penguins. That’s what we did in this kayak tour!

Stay in Kaikoura

Kaikoura has plenty of options to stay based on the budget. There are good and luxurious hotels by the beach and there are budgeted backpacker stay options. We had gone for the stay at Youth Hostels Association (YHA) Kaikoura. The single occupancy suite for 3 nights had cost NZD 162 per person.

I am a religious loyal member of YHA. They have hostels everywhere in India, Australia and New Zealand. Their hostels are very convenient as they are generally in the middle of the Central Business District (CDB) or on the main street. They are also very close to the restaurants and shopping centres.

Safety for solo female travelers

Even though I went with my two friends, I can vouch that Kaikoura is one of the safest places in New Zealand. The people are nice and warm. And not even for once even at nights I felt unsafe. It was definitely a very pleasant travel and I have such amazing memories.

However, like any other place in the World, I would say that be cautious and know your surroundings especially at nights.

Closing Notes

Kaikoura is one place that I want to go back and probably live there for a few months experiencing and soaking in all the beauty that the place can offer. This is one place that surely needs to be on every adventurous traveler’s bucket list.


  1. Wow, this absolutely speaks to the wildlife addict in me! We’re across the straight in Australia, so would love to get to the South Island soon, and obviously Kaikoura is top priority now – I’ve never heard of taking a scenic flight for whale watching, everything I’ve seen advertised around the world always takes place from a boat. But what incredible shots you got!

  2. This whole itinerary is right up my alley. I love whales, dolphins and seals. I actually wanted to be a marine biologist and specifically work with whales and dolphins, so I seek out these kinds of activities any chance I get.

  3. This is a perfect itinerary for all nature-lovers. My friends would also like this kind of adventure. I like that you got to see the marine animals. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets.

  4. Whale watching, swimming with the dolphins…. kayaking with seals, this sounds like a real paradise! I m dreaming of visiting this place.

  5. This looks like a great time in the great outdoors. The call of the outdoors is loud and clear, looking at the post, I am yearning to head out. Lovely experience of communing with nature.

  6. What a great weekend! I am not that wildlife lover but all those activities look very special. I swam with pink dolphins on the Amazon and it was really cute. Your experience looks more authentic though

  7. I did some kayaking and saw seals in New Zealand. Great experience. You can also walk to where the colony of seals is along the coast in Kaikoura. I loved the vibe of that town. Really cool and the natural landscape was amazing

    • Thats very true. My friends and I could not walk down to the seal colony, but we had plenty of time observing them on our kayaks. It was beautiful.

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