The fog from the sea has wrapped the mountains in its hazy embrace. The icy turqoise waves slosh the shore. Does Kaikoura have the world’s most beautiful sunset?
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.Jacque Cousteau
What’s so wondorous about New Zealand?
The nature in Kaikoura, located on New Zealand’s southern island, is breathtakingly amazing. So amazing that we decided to stay there for two nights. We would have stayed for a third one, had our schedule allowed us to do so.
We spent the first night by the sea at the Peketa Beach Holiday Park’s camping ground. The second night was spent on the other side of the city of Kaikoura at a Fredom Camping –area called Meatworks. Both places were the finest we got to sleep at during our visit to New Zealand.
We began our travels in New Zealand from Christchurch, which is about 180 kilometers away from Kaikoura. Wobbling with a big van is slow and the drive took us two and a half hours. We still enjoyed it.
Moving slowly provides ample time to enjoy the scenery and an opportunity to let your mind wander freely. There’s plenty to see, too. We were taking photos of the sheep, the dark-green hills, the sea and the edgy mountains nonstop.
As we were planning the route for our trip around the world, all of our friends and acquaintances spoke highly of the nature in New Zealand. It wasn’t a tough decision to earmark three whole weeks for staying there. The only thing we weren’t quite sure about was the timing: June is a winter month in New Zealand.
As Finns, children of winter, we weren’t that concerned about winter per se, but the many meandering mountain roads become deadly when driving a van and some places are out of reach. We would have loved to have more time to explore the southern island, too. Now Queenstown, Lake Tekapo, Milford Sounds, the Franz Josef Glacier and Otago will have to wait for the next trip and for warmer weather.
It was in Kaikoura that we fell in love with New Zealand.
Do these 5 things in Kaikoura
Kaikoura equals nature. The mountains and the sea make the place exceptionally beautiful, but you come here for the animals.
Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where you get to observe different whale species near the shore. You can gawk at the whales from air or boat. By plane or helicopter you can see the whales in their entirety and marvel at several ones during a flight. By boat you get up close, next to them, and you may even get that famous close-up of the whale’s tail before it dives back into the depths of the ocean.
You can observe whales at several different locations on the Kaikoura shores when driving on the coast, but the best spots are at the Point Kean Seal Colony and the Ohau Waterfall, where you can witness the adorable baby seals jump up the river in order to get to play at the Ohau Waterfall. The walk to Ohau takes only about ten minutes. The easiest way to get to both spots is by using Google or a navigator.
3. City of Kaikoura
The city of Kaikoura is small but charming. There are a couple of cozy restaurants, cafes, and shops from which you can get something warm and woolen to wear, in case you forgot those at home. We got take-away and sat by the shore eating. Most restaurants also have free Internet, whose range carries to the nearby parking lot…
In Kaikoura you get to swim with the dolphins and seals. We ran out of money for this, but the locals spoke highly of it.
Seal Swim Kaikoura
5. Sunrise and sunset
It’s worth getting up early in the morning and being camera-ready at night. Kaikoura is famous for its beautiful sunsets and sunrises. One of the finest places is Peketa Beach and a few curves before it, when coming from the direction of Christchurch.
Another good option is the beach located by the city of Kaikoura on the Meatworks Camping ground. This place, too, is easiest to find by putting the name on Google.
More information: Kaikoura official