Kaikoura is a popular stop for tourists seeking wildlife attractions, it has everything from seals, dolphins, whales to albatrosses.
We stayed here for two nights to make sure that we had time to see everything this little seaside town had to offer. The centre of town has all the shops you’ll need and a few bars if your looking for a night out.
♦ Ohau waterfall walk and seal sups. This is the hidden golden nugget of Kaikoura and it’s the towns pride and joy. Located 25 minutes north of the centre you’ll find nothing more than a small sign posted in a car park beside the sea.
Once parked up the you’ll see the walkway, being the only one there this leads you away from the sea, upstream through native bush. The walk to the waterfall will take you 5 minutes if you didn’t stop, however, due to the walkway being littered with seal pups all the way up we’d suggest allowing 45 minutes.
You’ll see the seals sleeping, playing, some fighting and you may need to stop when they decide to cross the path. Upon reaching the waterfall, which is a sight in its own right, you’ll be greeted by tens of baby seals. They’ll be jumping and diving over each other, climbing up ledges on the waterfall in order to throw themselves into the water beneath them – They really are a delight to watch.
The seals are born by the waterfall and don’t make their way to the sea until they are old enough to deal with the dangers it presents. Be aware however, that these are wild animals, they may look lovely and cute but we didn’t fancy touching one just incase we lost a finger.
The earthquakes in November 2016 did some damage to the walkway making it less accessible and there are some boulders in the waterfall pool however, do not fear, the attraction still exists. Contrary to what you may have read this area as not been destroyed.
♦ Seal Colony. We found the best of Kaikoura’s seals to be located along the Peninsula Walkway. This is a 12km looping track which is home a seal colony. From the carpark you’ll be greeted by the seals. They were dotted all over the rocks by the sea and you’re able to walk very close to the seals.
These are big animals that somehow manage to disguise themselves against the rocks like a snake in the grass. Keep an eye out for them and don’t get too close, respect their space as they can be dangerous and territorial. This is an amazing place to see such an interesting animal up close and personal.
♦ Whale watching. We decided to take a trip and see the largest animal on earth and we were lucky enough to strike gold. We didn’t just see 1 or 2, we saw 4 giant majestic Sperm Whales. We also saw albatrosses and seals on our trip – Other tours have been known to spot dolphins also. Its a humbling experience – One that we’ll never forget.
We decided to go with Whale Watch Kaikoura for the trip which lasted 3 or so hours and cost $150 NZD each. Its a lot of money but well worth it. Where else are you going to be able to watch whales in their natural habitat?
♦ Accomodation. When it comes to accommodation in Kaikoura its about average for New Zealand. So many tourists pass through here and stop over which has resulted in there being ample hostels, backpackers and campgrounds. A dorm bed in a hostel will set you back about $30 NZD and for a double you are looking around $80 NZD.
♦ Earthquake Damage. Kaikoura suffered a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in November 2016. This has restricted access to the area and the operation of some tours. If your going here you will need to plan ahead. We suggest calling the I-site (+64 3 3195641) with any concerns you have. It’s estimated that the town will be in full swing again no later than November 2017.