In northern Canterbury are some of New Zealand’s most famous experiences. The spa resort of Hanmer Springs is an enticing destination – especially in winter, when snow falls around steaming pools! At Kaikoura, rugged mountains drop to the ocean, where you can encounter marine wildlife from albatrosses to seals and whales, and feast on local delicacies such as crayfish. Further south, the Waipara Valley is dotted with vineyards.

Highlights

Marine wildlife A deep underwater trench off the coast of Kaikoura makes this the perfect habitat for whales, dolphins and albatrosses. Hanmer Springs The picturesque alpine resort of Hanmer Springs is a popular destination, offering hiking, adventure activities and, of course, thermal hot pools. Wine tasting in the Waipara Valley The Waipara Valley enjoys a microclimate that’s perfect for growing grapes, making this Canterbury’s foremost wine-producing region. Kaikoura This coastal village, sandwiched between soaring forest-clad mountains and the Pacific Ocean, offers a fantastic range of wildlife encounters and adventure activities. Māori culture Evidence suggests that for at least 700 years Kaikoura has been an important Māori settlement.

Destinations

Hanmer Springs Peaceful alpine spa village with thermal hot pools. Waipara Valley Wine-producing region in a sheltered microclimate. Kaikoura Famous for its abundant marine wildlife and encounters. Culverden Rural village with a bakery serving superb pies. Amberley Bustling town with several cafés and boutique shopping.

Getting There and Around

Air There is an airstrip at Kaikoura for scenic flights and charters. The nearest international airport is in Christchurch. Road Kaikoura is 2 hours, 35 minutes from Christchurch and 6 hours, 30 minutes from Picton (via the inland route that is currently necessary as repairs to State Highway 1 are completed following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake). Hanmer Springs is just under 2 hours from Christchurch, and Amberley (in the Hurunui) is 50 minutes from Christchurch. The 370-kilometre Alpine Pacific Touring Route links Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs and the Hurunui. The region is served by coaches/shuttles. Picton to Kaikoura [476 km; 6 hr, 30 min] Christchurch to Kaikoura [183 km; 2 hr, 35 min] Christchurch to Hanmer Springs [135 km; 1 hr, 55 min] Christchurch to Amberley [55 km; 50 min] Amberley to Hanmer Springs [90 km; 1 hr, 20 min] Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura [141 km; 2 hr] Rail Kaikoura is on the TranzCoastal line between Picton and Christchurch.

Directory

Seal Swim Kaikoura

Swim with wild New Zealand Fur Seals in the shallow waters of the beautiful Kaikoura Peninsula. Be blown away by their underwater antics, an experience not to be missed! No…

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Kaikoura Kayaks

Half-day guided tours to view the New Zealand Fur Seals, Dusky Dolphins and wildlife of the Kaikoura Peninsula. Watch seals dive around your kayak, then paddle with them as they hunt for…

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Kaikoura Helicopters

With versatility, comfort and the ability to hover, land and go places quickly, our helicopters are the only way to experience Kaikoura’s natural wonders. See the whole whale from head…

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Dolphin Encounter

If you do need a reason to visit Kaikoura, joining a tour to see the acrobatic and energised Dusky dolphins could be the just the persuasion required. Swimming with dolphins or joining the…

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Albatross Encounter

Kaikoura is famous for whales and dolphins, but did you know it is also known as the albatross capital of the world? Up to ten different species of albatross are commonly sighted, as…

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The Fairways at Ocean Ridge

Enjoy the comfort of this brand-new, luxury five-star accommodation in Kaikoura’s newest eco-land development. One-/ two-bedroom en suite apartments and en suite studio rooms with full in-house catering menu available.…

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Waves on the Esplanade Luxury Apartments

With the Pacific Ocean at your door and snow-capped mountains reaching skyward from the rugged coastline, you could be in only one place – Kaikoura. Waves on the Esplanade offers…

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Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch is New Zealand’s only marine-based whale watching company operating year round. They offer visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale. Their 95% success rate means they guarantee an…

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Maori Tours Kaikoura

Join a half-day tour combining laughter, learning and storytelling with hands-on activities like weaving and a bush walk to discover traditional uses of plants. As you join in the customs…

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