Why you need to plan a road trip to Kaikoura

I’ve got a few favourite spots in New Zealand and your mind probably darts straight to Fiordland or Mount Cook. But this town has a strong place in my heart. Nestled on the east coast of the south island you will find a beautiful town where the mountains meet the sea. 

We have been lucky to visit this town twice and every time I fall in love a little deeper. Kaikoura is a coastal town well known for its wildlife and whale population. With walks, ocean activities, great surf and rock formations that are home to colonies of New Zealand fur seals, incredible kai moana, and MORE, yes more, this town deserves a firm place on any South Island road trip itinerary. 

We were lucky enough to spend two full days exploring for the GoPro Creator Summit at the start of October and we had that much fun that we have just rebooked to go back in December for Robbie’s birthday celebrations. Here are my absolute must do’s in Kaikoura & im sure I will be adding to the list in December! 

Explore the coastline 

Kaikoura is right on the ocean. If you are driving South, the highway hugs the coastline, and honestly If you don’t spend your whole journey with your head hanging out the window in awe then you are seriously missing out. If you are driving in from the north then be prepared to have your socks blown off when you drop down through the ranges, truly breathtaking scenery. You can walk, you can drive and you can sit on the rocks in most places and be joined by a friend. You will most definitely see a good number of New Zealand fur seals on your visit to Kaikoura and it is one of the most magical things to watch. The mountains, the Kaikoura ranges are an extension of the southern alps and are there to be explored. 

Dolphin Swimming 

If this isn’t the ultimate in pinch-me experiences then I don’t know what is. Get all your gear, have your briefing, bus out to the wharf and jump on a boat. The crew heads out into the open ocean and preps you for a moment with one of nature’s finest animals. The Dusky Dolphins here in Kaikoura and some of the most playful in the world and love to swim, dart and jump around you in the water. The Crew at Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura are so wonderful. They make you feel safe in and out of the water and ensure that the Dolphins well-being is paramount throughout the whole experience. These animals are not baited, nor chased so the chance encounter is a dream come true. If you do one thing, make sure it is this. 

Sunset kayaking with Kaikoura Kayaks

This one is on the bucket list for sure. Unfortunately, our tour got cancelled due to high winds, however, we will be booking back on in December so I can give you a full update then! But for guaranteed viewing of fur seals with surreal visuals of the seaward Kaikoura Mountains as the light changes towards the end of the day, you have to book with these guys. We popped in to the office and the team are awesome & really know their stuff.

4WD across farmland with Glenstrae Farm 4 Wheel Adventures

One thing you need to know about me is how bad a car passenger I am. I hate going fast and I am that annoying human who cocks their leg when you get too close to things in fear that they might enter the car. However, get me on a quad bike, I will leave you for dust. I absolutely LOVE quad biking. It is exhilarating, fun and there is nothing like putting your foot down across a backcountry farm high above the Kaikoura Coastline. We had a private 3 hour tour thorugh epic farmland where we saw native bush and spectacular views of the Kaikoura coast, Hamuri Bluffs, and a private little seal colony. Such an epic day out! 

Stay at Wacky Stays 

Wacky by name and wacky by nature. This accommodation is by far one of my favourite places I have ever stayed in. We had the Colonial Wagon. Created to such a high standard and spec I honestly did not want to leave. Plus, the doors opened right out onto the llama paddock so my morning brew with Pete the Llama every morning was an absolute treat. Wacky Stays also run Llama walking tours. Just you, the farm crew, and a bunch of Llamas. Take a short stroll to the Kowhai River or a longer trek to the beach. If you stay here, you are also invited to feeding times. You bet I was first in the queue every morning! 

So, Kaikoura, I am VERY excited to return. I cant wait to see you again and I can already taste the fish and chips and smell the sea air from here. 

Will you add Kaikoura to your New Zealand road trip bucket list? 

Watch and see more about our adventure in Kaikoura and the GoPro Hero9 Creator Summit here. 

Explore the Kaikoura New Zealand website to find your next adventure.

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Full-time​ adventure seeker, based in Queenstown NZ. Obsessed with everything outdoors. My blog is filled with all our adventures and weekly happenings, feel free to get in touch. I love meeting new people!

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