Kaikoura is located on the east coast of the South Island on the main route
mid-way between Christchurch and Picton. Christchurch, which has an international airport,
is 180km to the south of Kaikoura, Picton is 160km to the north. Picton is the transit
point for the South Island ferries to and from Wellington.
The towering peaks of the Kaikoura Ranges and the plummeting depths of
the Pacific Ocean provides Kaikoura with its spectacular coastal alpine scenery. Fur seals
can often be found lounging on rocks just metres from shore, while Hector's and Dusky
dolphins frolic in the sea within sight of the village.
Steeped in history, the area was first settled some 900 years ago by
the pre-Maori Moa Hunters. Later, the peninsula was inhabited by the Waitaha tribe, then
the Ngati Mamoe tribe and later Ngai Tahu. In 1770, Captain Cook was the first European to
discover the Kaikoura peninsula, believing it to be an island. Captain Robert Fyffe, believed
to be Kaikoura's earliest European settler, established a whaling station there in 1843, near
where his house still stands to this day.
Kaikoura is now known for its locally-caught crayfish and thriving
sustainable tourist industry.
Visitors to Kaikoura have a wide range of attractions from which to
choose. Among the activities on offer in this vibrant region are the ever-popular whale
watching tours, swimming with dolphins, wine tasting at local vineyards and visiting
Kaikouras numerous galleries, where you can see crafts as diverse as hand-crafted
jewellery, stone carving and pottery.