Where the Mountains Meet the Sea
Two hours north of Christchurch is the “we can’t believe how beautiful this is” town of Kaikoura, situated on a rocky peninsula with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. The Māori name of Kaikoura translates to “meal of crayfish” (kai = food, koura = crayfish) for which the region is famous. And it’s this abundance of crayfish, combined with a complex marine system and rich habitat, which draws so many visitors here—humans and animals alike. In fact, you could call Kaikoura a marine mammal mecca, where sperm whales, fur seals, and dolphins live permanently, while migrating species like the rare Hector’s dolphins, humpback whales, and orca pop by for visits.
Sure, there are plenty of other things to see and do here, but trust us: If you’ve ever wanted to watch a whale breach, or gaze in sheer joy as dozens of dolphins leap out of the water and do back flips, Kaikoura is probably the best place in the world to do it.