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Welcome to Kaikoura!   CLICK HERE for What’s Open in Kaikoura this summer!

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Where the Mountains meet the Sea

With a population of approximately 3,800 residents, the Kaikōura township is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. In the waters off the peninsula, a complex marine system provides an abundantly rich habitat for marine mammals and seabirds making it an ideal place for getting ‘close to nature’.


Kaikōura has a rich history and culture. Maori heritage is reflected in the name, Kaikōura. Tama ki Te Rangi arrived in the area many hundreds of years ago and was tired and hungry. He found an abundance of crayfish and named the area “Te Ahi Kaikoura a Tama ki Te Rangi” – the fire that cooked the crayfish of Tama ki Te Rangi.
Kai – food Koura – crayfish

European history can be traced back to 1770. Captain Cook first discovered the Kaikōura peninsula, believing it to be an island. The first shore whaling station was established in 1843, located near where Fyffe House still stands today. Other whaling stations soon followed, and at one stage the industry employed over one hundred men in the Kaikōura district alone. Whale numbers steadily declined after 1850 and the exportation of them became un-economic, leading whalers to turn to alternative means of existence, such as farming. Whaling continued sporadically until as recently as 1964 when the last of NZ’ s whaling operations ceased.

Several different species of whale can be seen off Kaikōura at different times of the year, but almost always the huge Sperm Whales. Flukes lifting clear at the start of the deep dive, adolescent male Sperm Whales enjoy the rich diet of the Kaikōura waters while building up their strength to move to the mating grounds of the warm north. Regularly diving to depths of one kilometer, Sperm Whales have been known to dive to 3 kilometers, holding their breath for up to two hours – perhaps gulping down a few groper or wrestling with a giant squid.

Kaikōura’s coastal waters are home to an array of other marine mammals and bird life making it the perfect destination for marine experiences all year round. The Sperm Whales also share this part of the ocean with dusky dolphins, fur seals and albatross amongst others. Migrating species such as the rare Hector’s dolphins, humpback whales and orca visit throughout the year.


Foreign Exchange services
Available at the Kaikōura i-SITE for a small fee on weekends and public holidays.

Access available at the Kaikōura Library as well as some accommodation houses. Free Wifi at many cafes with a small purchase ie a coffee or New World Supermarket.

Medical Centre
Click here to visit Medical Centre’s website
Open daily.

Garages (Service Stations)
12 hours during summer, restricted hours during winter.

Fax/Scanning Services
Faxes can be sent and received at the Kaikōura i-SITE for a small charge as well as having documents scanned- open daily.

Kaikōura Shuttles & Tours offers taxi and shuttle services, telephone +64 3 319 6166.

Kaikōura Town Map
Pick up your free local town map at the Kaikōura i-SITE or download the PDF here.