Things to do in Kaikoura

Our most recommended things to do in Kaikoura

Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

1. Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

Take a whale-watching cruise off the Kaikoura coast, and see giant sperm whales in their natural environment. Enjoy onboard commentary as you encounter a range of wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Set sail on a catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Take in the views from the large outdoor decks or stay inside the air-conditioned interiors with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying marine wildlife animations. Gain an insight into the habitat with scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these creatures from the crew. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel's capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

2. Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

Cruise along the scenic Kaikoura coast as you watch for dolphins. During the cruise, you'll be able to swim with the dolphins in their natural habitat or watch their antics from the comfort of the boat. Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter the Dusky Dolphins in their natural environment. The Dusky Dolphins are some of the most interactive and acrobatic species of dolphins, making them thrilling to watch and interact with. 

Kaikoura: Whale Watch Flight

3. Kaikoura: Whale Watch Flight

Enjoy a panoramic whale-watching flight, with stunning scenic views along the spectacular Kaikoura coastline. Only from the air can you appreciate the huge size of the mighty sperm whale, a frequent visitor to the waters off Kaikoura. After a safety briefing and overview of your scenic flight, hop onboard for your whale-watching adventure in the skies. Every passenger gets a guaranteed window seat to enjoy maximum viewing of the ocean and its inhabitants below. On your 40-minute whale-watching flight, you may see sperm whales, dusky dolphins, humpback whales, blue whales, orcas, and other marine life. After finding whales enjoy a scenic flight of Kaikoura and the dramatic surrounding scenery, including snow-clad mountain ranges and turquoise ocean reefs. Whales are wild animals and sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, with 30 years of experience and extensive local knowledge, flights have a 95% success rate. Honest information on the likelihood of spotting a whale will be provided on the day.

Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

4. Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

Begin your adventure in the town of Kaikoura where you will meet your professional guides. Receive a short safety briefing and paddling lesson before being allocated all the necessary equipment for the tour. Head out on the waters of the beautiful ocean surrounding the city. Kayak along the Kaikoura coastline, where you will take in the magnificent views of sheer cliff faces, craggy rocks, and mountain ranges while searching for chance encounters with Dusky Dolphins and Blue Penguins. Experience the excitement of watching cute fur seals ducking, weaving, and diving around your kayak. During your tour, you will have the opportunity to paddle gently along with these beautiful animals as they swim around the Kaikoura Peninsula hunting for their favourite feed of octopus. This tour is suitable for all ages and abilities while operating year-round, and doesn't require any previous kayaking experience. Encounter a diverse range of wildlife on the New Zealand coastline and see some of the country's most beautiful animals.

Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Flight

5. Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Flight

Receive an informative briefing of the Sperm Whales and other wildlife of Kaikoura, ready for your 30-minute flight experience. Learn about its unique geology, and what you can expect to see during the flight. Spend a special half hour viewing these majestic creatures from a unique vantage point.  Head directly out over the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary to start looking for Kaikoura's wildlife. This whale watching flight showcases the year-round whales and dolphins, as well as the stunning coastline and peninsula. Focusing on the mighty Sperm Whale, this is a once-in-a-lifetime flight to view these animals, as well as other whale and dolphin species that migrate through Kaikoura's waters.  All aircraft are high-winged, which allows each person their own window seat and optimal, unobstructed viewing and photography opportunities. Your tour finishes back at the terminal where there is a gift shop and refreshments available.

Kaikoura: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

6. Kaikoura: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

Enjoy this once in a lifetime bird watching experience just 15 minutes of the coast of Kaikoura. Within just a small area, meet one of the greatest varieties of seabirds and pelagic bird life you'll find anywhere in the world. Up to 12 species of albatross alone can be viewed at various times of the year. Equip yourself with your bird identification list, your expert local guide and driver will take you on a journey from the Port out into the open ocean. Enjoy the opportunity to watch the birds come in close to the boat for a unique feeding experience. Throughout the tour, your guide will take you to various different spots to ensure you see as many species as possible. As you make your way back to Kaikoura, come in close to the shore and marvel at the picturesque New Zealand coastline. If you’re lucky, you will have an opportunity to see beautiful fur seals basking in the sunshine.

Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

7. Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

Join your guide as you kayak during sunset to experience the stunning glow of the seaward-facing Kaikoura Mountains. Have the chance to watch seals dive and maneuver around and under your kayak as the sunsets. Paddle with them as they swim around the peninsula hunting for octopus. Along the way keep an eye out for blue penguins or albatross and have a possible encounter with dusky dolphins. Your kayak is enclosed, safe, stable, and easily steered using a rudder. It's fast on the water, but still keeps you warm and dry. Your qualified and experienced local guide will teach you how to handle the kayak and paddle you through areas used years ago by local Maori and early whalers. Enjoy watching the light change as the day draws to an end.

Kaikoura: Seal-Watching Pedal Kayak Tour

8. Kaikoura: Seal-Watching Pedal Kayak Tour

Meeting point - Seal Kayak Kaikoura is based right next to the towns centre where you will meet your awesome tour guide providing you with all the gear you need for a safe and enjoyable experience, come early and try our delicious gelato or sorbet. After a short safety video your guide will then drive you to the best kayaking destination of the day (only 3-5 minute drive away) toilets will be available before heading out onto the ocean. A quick how to use and operate these awesome kayaks then off we go! Keep your eyes peeled as we never know what to encounter as we kayak through and around rocky outcrops viewing the cool New Zealand Fur Seals, don't be surprised if one of these special creatures swim right up to you. Blue Penguins and Albatross are a common sight on our tours. Our easy to use hands free kayaks are suited for all ages and ability's, Perfect for a family day out. Never used a kayak before? no worries! you do not require any previous kayaking experience. We look forward to meeting you and showing you the amazing sights and marine life Kaikoura has to offer.

Kaikoura: 1-Hour Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

9. Kaikoura: 1-Hour Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

Spot sperm whales, dusky dolphins, and fur seals from above before making a summit landing among the towering peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Ranges on this 1-hour helicopter tour. The adventure begins with a short safety briefing from the pilot, as well as additional information about the year-round population of sperm whales and the unique underwater Kaikoura Canyon. Next, jump in the helicopter and head out over the Whale Sanctuary and Hikurangi Marine Reserve for a chance to view the pod of sperm whales. Taking on a bird's-eye-view maximizes time viewing the wildlife while not disrupting their natural behavior. Continue along the magnificent coastline of the Kaikoura Peninsula keeping an eye out for playful dusky dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. The last stop of the day will be the towering peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Ranges for an incredible alpine landing. Get out and walk around on rugged pristine land with breathtaking vistas of the mountains, peninsula, and ocean.

Kaikoura: Adventure Helicopter Tour

10. Kaikoura: Adventure Helicopter Tour

Begin your adventure are Kaikōura Airport where you will receive a short safety briefing from your pilot, as well as additional information about the year-round population of sperm whales and the unique underwater Kaikōura Canyon. As you head out over the Pacific Ocean you are surrounded on all sides by the gorgeous scenery of Kaikōura, with the coastal mountains as a backdrop. Slowly orbit the whales so you can see the whole animal from head to tail, minimising your impact on the animal while maximising your time and viewing. Soar back along the coastline keeping an eye out for any other animals that may be around, including the resident population of dusky dolphins and New Zealand fur seals, as well as any other whale species that may be migrating through including blue, humpback, fin, and killer whales. After completing your wildlife viewing, head for the Seaward Kaikōura Mountain Ranges. Fly along the coastline to see the impact from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that changed the entire landscape of the coastal mountains and see the new Papatea Fault where it scars the land and runs out to sea. Fly inland along the Clarence River Valley and back up through the mountain range for a landing at the turquoise waters of the newly created Hapuku Dam Lake, which was created during the November 2016 earthquake. Enjoy the scenery as you fly back through the mountain range to land.

Other Sightseeing Options in Kaikoura

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What people are saying about Kaikoura

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 308 reviews

Had a fantastic time on the whale watching cruise! As soon as we left the wharf we spotted a pod of dusty dolphins playing alongside the boat and that set the tone of the trip. We saw 2 whales, Lazarus and Mati Mati, twice (so 4 viewings in our trip!). Hosts were very informative and high spirited. Thanks for an incredible day!

Amazing experience. Well run tour, plenty of visibility on board. We were privilaged to witness the mighty Mati Mati a couple of times, and an enormous amount of dolphins frolicking around the boat! Magic!

Well organised, helpful, courteous staff. Crew made the most of the experience in locating the whales, seals etc. Good commentary.

amazing and magical experience to meet these lovely giants. Mati Mati..muahh

Thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the guide’s were very helpful.