Qualmark will be featuring each of our wonderful Regional Tourism Organisations via our Qualnews, to highlight all of Aotearoa’s beautiful regions one by one. We are excited to share the below editorial sent through by Lisa Bond, on her proudly loved town of Kaikōura.
Kaikōura is a unique coastal town on the south island's east coast. A town world-renowned for its marine mammal encounters, incredible landscape, and delicious seafood. Just a short 2.5hr drive from Christchurch and perfectly placed on state highway one, this town cannot be missed.
Here in Kaikōura, the locals are committed to providing, maintaining, and sustaining the environment and all that inhabit it. The Tiaki Promise is a commitment to care for New Zealand - by following the Tiaki Promise, our town and those visiting are committing to New Zealand now and for generations to come.
Kaikōura is renowned for all year-round marine mammal watching with male sperm whales, dusky dolphins, NZ fur seals and many marine bird species calling this place home. Many of our popular sea-based operators are Qualmark Gold: Whale Watch Kaikōura, Dolphin & Albatross Encounter, Kaikōura Helicopters, Wings Over Whales, South Pacific Helicopters and Kaikōura Kayaks. All of these operators offer unique and unforgettable marine mammal or bird watching experiences.
In Kaikōura there are also outdoor activities aplenty - the mountains, trails, and ocean call for those who love to get active during their visit.
Biking in Kaikōura got much easier with the addition of The Kaikōura cycle trail. A 48km loop of excellent scenery, track grade, and a must-do experience for biking enthusiasts. Start in the centre of town at Coastal Sport to hire a bicycle or if you're bringing your own, stop by to check out your route. It is possible to complete short sections of the trail if you don't have the time for the entire loop. Cycling in and around Kaikōura is easy. The land is flat, the views are epic, and the adventure is endless. If you are travelling with an e-bike, head over to South Bay and back for a great little half-day mission.
Kaikōura is famous for its mountain range, with many hikers visiting for that very reason. Mt Fyffe is the most popular hiking trail, some even opting to stay the night in the Mt Fyffe backcountry hut. You will find you find uninterrupted 360-degree views of the beautiful blue ocean and the gleaming snow-capped mountains. If you want to stay closer to the ocean, check out the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway, which is ideal if time isn't on your side, or you prefer a shorter walk. Follow the trail heading over the Kaikōura Peninsula for a sweeping view of South Bay and round back the coastal track towards town - you might even spot a friendly fur seal or two!
Eating local produce is one awesome method to travel sustainably – it supports the locals and is great for the environment when the food doesn't have to travel far to get to your table. There is no shortage of places to sink your teeth into freshly caught and cooked Kai Moana (seafood). From restaurants to catch your own, the region is awash with places to grab a good feed. If catching your food sounds more inviting, then a morning on the ocean with a fishing charter such as Top Catch Fishing Charters or Kaikōura Fishing Tour is an unforgettable and rewarding experience. Leave with a bucket of fresh fish and a crayfish or two that you can cook up at home, or take to the local fish n chip shop ‘Coopers Catch’ who will cook up your catch for a few extra dollars.
Food is a massive part of the whakapapa of Kaikōura: the name refers to eating (kai) and crayfish (kōura), which thrive off the coast. In the heart of Kaikōura, you will find Hapuku Kitchen. A place that aims to reconnect all who visit with the land and ocean. Celebrate an abundance of fresh produce during a hands-on, farm-to-table cooking experience. An immersive and entertaining experience that will have you coming back for more.
The accommodation in Kaikōura is extensive, with hidden gems like the Pure Pods glass eco-cabins situated in a vast landscape with perfect views of the mighty Seaward Kaikōura Mountain Range, only 20 minutes inland from Kaikōura. The recently opened Sudima Hotel and the luxurious Hapuku Lodge & Treehouses are both well known for quality service, their sustainability efforts and offer incredible views to wake up to.
The brilliant night skies above Kaikōura are on track to becoming an International Dark Sky Sanctuary in a bid to save the town’s endemic native seabird. Local Astronomer Larry Field has built an observatory on his property and believes that the stargazing capability in our coastal town is second to none. Blessed with a location that perfectly rests between wilderness and the ocean, the night sky wilderness is as inviting as the backcountry. By protecting and preserving this natural heritage and controlling the night lighting, we, as a town, can maintain the night sky for future generations.
We also get to enjoy The Hutton’s Shearwater bird as a local resident, as Kaikōura is the only location it breeds. Our mission is to create a safe flight passage for the birds leaving the mountains and landing in the ocean.
Here in Kaikōura we encourage all to treat the land and ocean with the respect it deserves. Recycling is encouraged throughout the town, as is supporting our business that are doing their part in creating a sustainable future.
We offer a range of initiatives for those who want to lend a helping hand. Moana Mark, Encounter Foundation, Kaikōura Wildlife Trust, Hutton Shearwater Charitable Trust are among them.
Kaikōura is unique, diverse, and on the road to a more sustainable future. Will you join us?