Kaikoura is famous for its dolphins and whales and the rich marine life in general. A deep sea trench right in front of the coast create a cool flow that is full of nutrients and this attracts all kinds of animals from little shrimps to blue whales, the biggest whales on Earth. The fact that the trench is right in front of the coast makes it unique because the whales are just a quick boat ride or flight away. Dolphins can usually be seen from the beaches, chances are especially high when you are an early bird.
The peninsula walk in Kaikoura offers really good views and due to the rich marine life there are lots of bird colonies as well. It takes around 2-3 hours. Make sure you go on calm day as it can get windy on the unprotected peninsula.
If you go on a boattrip or whale watching flight (see below for more info) you will mostly see dolphins and the big sperm whales, but also have a fair chance to see orcas or blue whales and more species.
Besides the marine life in the sea there is a lot more to explore in and around Kaikoura. If you drive around 25 km up north you will find the “Ohau Stream and Waterfall” near Okiwi Bay. Here you can walk along this little creek where you might see some seals. After 10 minutes of a really nice walk you will see the real highlight, a water fall and lots of seal puppies playing its pool. Do not disturb them, though as it means stress and they can get aggressive when in danger.
There are free campsites around 15 minutes north of Kaikoura right at the waterfront where you will always see lots of surfers due to the good conditions. It is an amazing freedom camping area. The public toilet is not that good, though and there is no drinking water available. But if you are traveling in a self-contained vehicle that consists of a toilet you do not have to deal with that issue and can enjoy the nature. If you are lucky you might see dolphins from the beach and seals usually come and rest outside.
Another great camping area is Okiwi Bay / Sandy Bay from where you have access to a beach on one side and walks on the other. It is located around 25-30 km north of Kaikoura. It is a great camping area, but gets chilly as soon as the sun sets behind the mountains. Contact us to find out about Campers that have a heater to make sure that you can stay warm at night. We will also tell you about the best Smartphone-Apps and show you the campsites. Contact us here for some free info.
Here are some companies who show you dolphins and whales.
http://www.whalewatch.co.nz/ Whale watching from a boat – they promote a 95% high chance to see whales. If you do not see a whale you get a refund of 80% of the price you paid.
http://www.whales.co.nz/ At “Wings over Whales” you can be passenger in a small airplane and see whales, dolphins etc. from above. Scenic views and a high chance of 95% to see whales.
http://worldofwhales.co.nz/ Another option to get airborne. They do helicopter flights for several purposes like whale watching, alpine and scenic flights.
http://www.dolphinencounter.co.nz/ Swimming with a group of dolphins in their natural environment, the staff will bring you to them in a boat and provide wetsuits and snorkelling gear.