Things to do in
Kaikoura

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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 up-close encounters with a range of other wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Your experienced crew will provide scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these amazing creatures throughout the tour. Set sail in a modern catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Large outdoor decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities, and the air-conditioned interiors are fitted with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying award-winning marine wildlife animations. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel carrying 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: 2.5-hour Albatross Encounter and Wildlife Cruise

3. 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: 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: 30-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

6. Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

Soar above Kaikoura on a whale watching flight and enjoy the marine wonders of this stunning area. Focusing on the sperm whales that are prevalent year-round, during the 30-minute flight your pilot will position the helicopter for the perfect view of these mighty creatures. See a whale in its entirety from tip to tail, and take in incredible photos as you fly past some of New Zealand's most beautiful coastline. Marvel at a diverse variety of marine life from humpback, southern right, and blue whales to playful dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. Your headset will keep you in constant contact with your pilot who will showcase some of the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Admire rugged coastline, enjoy the views, and look out for other wildlife.

Kaikoura: Guided Family Kayaking Adventure

7. Kaikoura: Guided Family Kayaking Adventure

Hop into a kayak and paddle around the beautiful coastal waters of New Zealand for up to 2 hours. Take in the unique landscapes as you go or enjoy the thrill of getting right up close to New Zealand's unique marine life. Spot the curious fur seals swimming and diverse range of birds, fish, and more. Listen to a short briefing explaining how to gear up, paddle, and steer your kayak. Then with full confidence, embark on this adventure. The highly stable sea kayaks allow children to safely enjoy the kayaking experience with an adult paddling right behind them. Professional, qualified guides will remain close to you throughout the kayaking time. Take photos of the amazing mountainous region around you, absorb the sheer sublime rocks, and meet some playful New Zealand Fur Seals.

Kaikoura: 1-Hour Whale Watching Helicopter Tour

8. 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: 1 Hour 20 Minute Adventure Helicopter Tour

9. Kaikoura: 1 Hour 20 Minute Adventure Helicopter Tour

Begin your adventure are Kaikoura 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 Kaikoura Canyon. As you head out over the Pacific Ocean you are surrounded on all sides by the gorgeous scenery of Kaikoura, 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 Kaikoura 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.

Kaikoura: Sunset Kayaking Tour

10. 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.

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What people are saying about Kaikoura

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 261 reviews

It was a fantastic tour with the pilot - sorry forgot his name. He is very good at flying and very friendly. We saw the huge whale, which is approximately the same length with the 23m boat, and heaps of dusk dolphins, and the pilot knew the whale so well and counted-down the exact time when it dived into deep water with iconic tail. The pilot also flew us to see the Kaikoura Earth-Quake fault-line, landslide and even the barrier lake. Really enjoy it. Thanks.

It was a wonderful tour with the dolphins.A special thanks to Instructor Emma on the boat helped me not only enjoy the swimming but also with some beautiful videos. I can't thank her enough. It's not easy to swim with the waves and beautiful, friendly dolphins. I think they know how to make everybody comfortable. I am definitely coming back :) Thank you very much

Its an incredible experience to see the whale especially when they dive. Great tour with lots of interesting facts to learn along the way. Highly recommended

Very good, and an awesome experience. The only area for improvement was the long safety video, which was mostly relevant to the swimmers.

Couldn't have asked for a better day perfect weather lots of dolphins ,friendly staff very good experience