Much like the drive to Christchurch, much of the drive to Kaikoura remained dull and uninteresting. It wasn’t until you got within 20km of Kaikoura that the scenery changed from blah to beautiful.
Staying 3 nights camping near Kaikoura, I had plenty of time to explore the town. The town itself is small, lending itself mostly to tourism in two forms – whale watching and dolphin swimming. Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world for both. Whale watching here is of the largest predator in the world – the Giant Sperm Whale. And the dolphin swimming isn’t with tame or captive dolphins, this is dropping you into the open ocean amid pods of Dusky Dolphins, pods which can hundreds of dolphins. I’d be doing the dolphin swim on my last full day in Kaikoura, and the day before was spent on a hike along the Kaikoura peninsula walkway. First things first was the view from the top of a lookout on the Kaikoura Peninsula, as you drive into town.
After the boredom of the Canterbury plains, Kaikoura is a treat for the eyes. You’ve got sizable mountains that plunge quickly down into the Pacific ocean. And continue going down deeper and deeper. One of the reasons Kaikoura has such abundant sea life is that the sea floor drops deep so quickly here. Just hundreds of meters off shore and you already are over 500m+ deep water. It goes down FAST.
That being said, the next stop was in Kaikoura itself, and a visit to the beach. Rather than sand, it’s smooth pebble here. Nice in that it doesn’t stick to your feet!
Then it was to the Kaikoura Peninsula walkway, a 2-3 hour hike around the peninsula that juts out into the ocean. The walk starts long the water.
From there you climb up to the top of the bluff/cliffs and continue the walk the rest of the way back to town. A fairly easy but very enjoyable hike, especially when you have the splendid weather that I did!