There is magic in Kaikoura. It won't take long for you to feel it seeping out of the homely buildings and go dancing across the cliffs. Every turn looks like a fairy tale - and not in a superficial manner, but in a way that makes you feel content.
Kaikoura is a small seaside town 2 1/2 hours north of Christchurch on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island. Home to just 3,500 people, this is a place where you feel as welcome as you would at home. A shockingly beautiful place, there is plenty for outdoor lovers and ocean wildlife lovers alike.
How to Get to Kaikoura
I am traveling around New Zealand with a Stray bus pass that gives me unlimited hop-on, hop-off access all across the country. I took the Stray bus from Christchurch, an easy 2 1/2 journey that winds up the coast. The closest international airport is in Christchurch; there is a small local airfield in Kaikoura as well.
Where to Stay in Kaikoura
I cannot say enough good things about the Albatross Backpackers Inn. Run by a lovely couple who clearly are very proud of their space, the hostel is in a perfect location to access town and the beach. It's clean, comfortable, cosy and they offer free coffee/tea/hot chocolate, unlimited wi-fi and you can borrow guide books, towels and bikes at any time.
Things To Do in Kaikoura
Kaikoura is exceptionally well-known for its water sports and marine life. There are plenty of tour operators who will take you dolphin or whale watching, swimming with the dolphins, kayaking and even whale-watching flights! The best thing to do in Kaikoura in my opinion is to head out to the coast to walk the Peninsula Walkway.
PENINSULA WALKWAY HIKE DETAILS
Length: 2 1/2 hours for 11km one-way loop hike starting and ending in town
Directions: from town, walk all the way along the beach to the Point Kean Viewpoint. From there, the Peninsula Walkway wanders along the grassy cliff-tops with views of white cliffs and seals lounging all around; my mouth literally fell open at the beauty. Continue to the South Bay Reserve then finish your loop back to town.
Bathrooms: yes, at the Point Kean Viewpoint and in South Bay Reserve
Public Transit: no (but no need, the walk is in town!)