The spectacular and beautiful Kaikoura

Things To Do in Kaikoura (2024)

One of the most prettiest and adventurous places I have ever visited in New Zealand is Kaikoura. We had a long weekend for ANZAC day in Australia, and I had planned to visit New Zealand during that long weekend. 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. In this post, you will find the details of things to do in Kaikoura.

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

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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.

The spectacular and beautiful Kaikoura
The spectacular and beautiful Kaikoura

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. 

Dolphins during my whale watching scenic flight in Kaikoura
Dolphins during my whale watching scenic flight in Kaikoura

How to get to Kaikoura?

  • The nearest airport to Kaikoura is at Christchurch and there are regular flights between Sydney and Christchurch. Jetstar is the budgeted airline. And Kaikoura is around 3 hours drive from Christchurch.
  • 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.

Things to do in Kaikoura

The coastal town of Kaikoura has plenty of things to offer, especially for people who seek adventures like me. But if you are not into adventures, that is fine as the town does not disappoint.

  • Kaikoura Museum – With artefacts related to the local history, Kaikoura Museum is a very interesting place to visit when you are in Kaikoura. You can visit this museum any day between 10 AM and 4 PM. There is an entrance fee of NZD 12 per adult, NZD 6 per child.
  • Fyffe House – South Island’s oldest colonial building is the Fyffe house. This house is the last remnant of whaling station that was established in 1842. The house which is now a museum is open between 10 AM and 5 PM during October to April, and between 10 AM and 4 PM Thursday to Monday during May and September. There is an entrance fee of NZD 10 per adult and NZD 6 per child.
  • Whale Watching tours – During the whale migration season (May to September), you can take boat tours to go see the humpback whales. There are many agencies that organise whale watching tours. You can also take a whale watching scenic flight to see the whales from up top.
  • Kaikoura lavender farm – Called as Lavendyl, Kaikoura Lavender Farm is a 25 hectares farm with lavender fields, gardens, farm animals. It is a great place for photoshoots. The farm is open at different times based on the season and days. There is an entrance fee of NZD 5 per adult (over 15 years of age).
  • Kaikoura Llama trekking – Another interesting activity to do in Kaikoura is going on a trek with the llamas. You can either go on half day or full day trekking tours depending on your preference.
  • Mayfair Arts and Culture – If you want to see and learn the local art and culture, then The Mayfair Arts and Culture centre is a must visit place. Apart from the exhibition space, the centre also has a cinema.
  • Swimming with Dolphins – One of the best things to do in Kaikoura is to swim with the dusky dolphins in the wild. It is an experience to remember and cherish throughout the life.
  • Kayak in the ocean with seals and dolphins – Be it in the morning or during the sunset, you have to kayak in the ocean. With dolphins just swimming next to your kayak, this truly is a magical experience.
  • Milky Way and Star Gazing – One of the other things to do in Kaikoura is to go see the Milky Way. The town is very quiet and has no light pollution after the sun sets, so it is ideal for star gazing and seeing billions of stars.
Things to do in Kaikoura
Things to do in Kaikoura – See the Milky Way

3 Days Itinerary for Kaikoura

We were in Kaikoura for 3 days and we did a lot of things during that 3 days. Below is the itinerary that we followed during our stay in Kaikoura.

  • Note that the below itinerary does not include the travel time between Christchurch and Kaikoura.

Day 1 – Whale watching scenic flight

In the morning, I suggest you go for the whale watching scenic flight tour. The highlight of day one for us was the whale watching scenic flight. 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.

Things To Do in Kaikoura (2024)
Sperm whale captured from the whale watching scenic flight

Once you are done with the whale watching scenic flight, you can explore and visit the museums. These museums are worth a visit where you can learn about the history of the coastal town.

Day 2 – Swimming with Dolphins

On second day, head over for the exciting experience of swimming with dolphins in the wild. 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.

Swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura
Swimming with Dolphins in Kaikoura

At night, do not forget to just drive down near the wharf to see the spectacular Milky Way. With zero light pollution, the billions of stars and the Milky Way are clearly visible.

Kaikoura Milky Way

Day 3 – Kayaking with seals and dolphins

On third day, you can kayak in the ocean to see more marine life. Vijay and I had yet again selected another water activity. 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!

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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.

Since we three are budgeted travelers, 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 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.

If you are looking for a decent and comfortable stay then go for The Hamptons, Te Mahuru Retreat and Sierra Beachfront Motel.

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If you are a luxurious traveler, then consider staying at The Factory Luxury Accommodation and Fyffe Country Lodge.


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, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at night.

Kaikoura Milky Way

Closing Notes | Things to do in Kaikoura

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.

Kaikoura Milky Way
Things to do in Kaikoura – See the Milky Way

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