Should You Visit Kaikoura?

Is Kaikoura worth visiting?

Yes, Kaikoura is absolutely a town that any traveler should visit. During our time here, we had so much fun.

Whether you're a traveling as a family, a couple, or a backpacker, this town has a lot to offer. Any local will tell you what makes it special is the amazing food and fantastic beaches.

Kaikoura is a coastal town on the South Island of New Zealand. It attracts tourists who want to get close to the region's truly amazing marine life. There are impressive whale watching trips where you can see Sperm Whales, and possibly even migrating whales when the season is right. There are also opportunities to swim with the dolphins and interact with other wildlife in the area.

Kaikoura, New Zealand Kaikoura, New Zealand

5 Reasons to Visit Kaikoura

1. Food

Seafood lovers will be in heaven in this town! There are many local, freshly caught favorites such as cod, mussels, and crayfish (which is actually lobster). You'll find plenty of casual eateries, including an authentic American diner.

2. Beaches

There are many black pebble beaches in the area, which are great for wildlife spotting, but not so good for swimming. Gooch's Beach is one of the most popular, and it's sandier than many of the other beaches. South Bay is another popular area to visit.

3. Hiking

There are many coastal walks in the area that will take you through a variety of landscapes. This is also a great way to see the many diverse types of wildlife throughout the peninsula.

4. Nightlife

This is a small town so the nightlife scene is limited, but there are a few restaurants with bars around town.

5. Shopping

There are local shops where you can pick up some interesting products that are unique to the area.

Is Kaikoura worth visiting in the Summer?

The peak season for travel is summer in Kaikoura, so expect to see more tourists than usual. This destination is quite popular with tourists, and in the high season it's even busier than usual as this is when most people like to visit. Expect crowds to be large, and prices to be a bit higher than normal. However, there's plenty to do here this time of year, too.

With the warmer weather this time of year, the beach is the main attraction. Spend time enjoying the waves and sand during your trip. The nearby hiking this time of year is a must-do, so take some time to get out on the trails, take in some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. This is a great time of year to relax at the beach, go hiking, and enjoy an evening out.

Is Kaikoura worth visiting in the Autumn?

Autumn is the shoulder season for travel in Kaikoura. This destination is quite touristy, so in the shoulder season you can still find plenty of crowds, but better prices.

You'll find plenty to do during autumn, as you'll be able to discover the nearby hiking trails.

Is Kaikoura worth visiting in the Winter?

This is the shoulder season for travel in Kaikoura. This destination is quite touristy, so in the shoulder season you'll still come across plenty of touriss. However, the prices tend to be a little cheaper. While you can see Sperm Whales year round, if you want to see other migrating species, the best time of year is between June and August. You might even see Beaked Whales, Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, or Orcas.

During this season it's fun to experience the cuisine and the nightlife scene.

Is Kaikoura worth visiting in the Spring?

The peak season for travel is spring in Kaikoura, so expect to see more tourists than usual. This destination is quite touristy, so in the high season it's busier than usual. You'll see larger crowds and longer lines, as well as higher prices. On the other hand, there's plenty to see and do at this time of year because everything is open.

This is a great time of year to browse the shops and enjoy the evening activities.

Things to Consider Before Visiting Kaikoura

Museums: Kaikoura isn't a place that's filled with a huge number of sights and attractions. There aren't many museums in the area, but it's worth learning more about the region's history with a visit to Kaikoura Museum.

Getting Around
The area is not very walkable, and public transit is not great here, so it might be difficult to get around without arranging your own transportation.

The Cost
Depending on your budget, schedule, and travel style, Kaikoura might be an expensive destination for you. You can find out the travel costs for Kaikoura here or see if Kaikoura is expensive here.


What is Kaikoura most famous for?

Kaikoura is most famous for its local Sperm Whale population, abundance of marine life, and local crayfish (lobster) recipes. The town is very popular for its food, beaches, and hiking. It's also known for nightlife and shopping. It is often described as biologically diverse, unique, and nature-oriented.

What is the most famous sight in Kaikoura?

The most popular sight in Kaikoura is its whale watching trips. You can see prices and costs for this and other sights in Kaikoura on our travel costs page.

Or, see tickets, activities, and tours for its whale watching trips and other attractions here.

How touristy is Kaikoura? Is it a popular town to visit?

Kaikoura is a popular town for tourists and travelers. Here are some of the most popular activities and tours. (Prices in US Dollars)

    • Half Day Zipline Adventure in Kaikoura: $100
    • Llama Trek (Taster) - Kowhai River Valley and Native Woodland Tour: $84
    • Sunset Kayak tour in Kaikoura: $85
    • 1-Hour Private Heli-Picnic Mountain top tour in Kaikoura: $245
    • Seal Kayaking Adventure in Kaikoura: $84
    • Private Wildlife Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $188
    • Wildlife Sea Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $94
    • Sunset Evening Kayaking Tour - Kaikoura: $94

    How long should I spend in Kaikoura?

    The ideal length of time for a trip to Kaikoura is two to four days. Since Kaikoura has activities such as dining, beaches, and hiking, many visit for up to four days.

    If you have a specific amount of time for your trip, see our advice about how much time to spend here: Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Kaikoura?, Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Kaikoura?, and Should I spend 1 or 2 weeks in Kaikoura?.