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Kaikoura

Kaikoura - 'meal of crayfish'

Kaikoura, New Zealand

On the rugged east coast of New Zealand's South Island, the seaside settlement of Kaikoura is overlooked by majestic mountains, which are snow capped for many months of the year. The township is located on a rocky peninsula, protruding from lush farmland beneath the mountains. This unique combination of ocean and mountains never fails to leave visitors to Kaikoura in awe. In the waters off the Kaikoura peninsula, a complex marine system provides an abundantly rich habitat for marine mammals and seabirds, making Kaikoura an ideal place for getting 'close to nature' either on a snorkeling or whale watching trip.

History of Kaikoura

Wonderful local products can be seen in several galleries in and around the town, including gold gilding, pottery, paintings and prints, jewellery, wood turning, knitted garments and much more, or join the Art Trail starting at the Visitors Centre and see for yourself the artists at work in their own environment.

In Maori legend, Maui placed his foot on the Kaikoura peninsula to steady himself while he 'fished-up' the North Island. Archaeological remains indicate that Moa Hunters inhabited the peninsula 900 years ago.

The Maori name Kaikoura translates to 'meal of crayfish' (Kai = food, koura = crayfish), and it is crayfish for which the region has traditionally been famous. The area's abundant food sources attracted Maori settlement, and the remains of several pa sites can still seen on the peninsula to this day.

In 1770 Captain Cook first discovered the Kaikoura peninsula, believing it to be an island. The first shore whaling station was established in 1843, located near where Fyffe House still stands today. Other whaling stations soon followed, and at one stage the industry employed over one hundred men in the Kaikoura district alone. Whale numbers steadily declined after 1850 and the exportation of them became un-economic, leading whalers to turn to alternative means of existence, such as farming. Whaling continued sporadically until as recently as 1964 when the last of NZ' s whaling operations ceased.

In 1978, the Marine Mammal Protection Act was finally passed, providing total protection to New Zealand' s whales, dolphins and seals. Today Kaikoura lies in the Southern Hemisphere Whale Sanctuary.

Kaikoura, South Island, NZ

Fantastic Trip

“First time to NZ, from the booking people on the phone to the guides to the guests, everyone was amazing. We all became fast friends and had a great time and great adventures. Can't recommend it highly enough. Hiking, biking, snorkeling, volcanoes, boating, Maori culture and more.”
Alberta, Canada
Kauri, January 2015
Read Reviews

If you're interested in exploring beautiful Kaikoura or would like to see Kaikoura on a map of the South Island, check out the following New Zealand itineraries:

Kaikoura marine life

Trip Reviews

  •   4.44 out of 5 (from 908 reviews)

    Awesome!

    Great hiking, awesome scenery, terrific guides, delicious food and more than comfy accommodations !
    Cal Hoppe Review Image
    – Arizona, United States
    Manuka, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Perfect Trip for anyone who loves Nature!

    If you enjoy being outdoors and like to challenge yourself this trip is for you. I wasn't an avid hiker before signing up for the Rimu trip but after reading the itinerary I knew I couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. You never know what you are capable of until you try and that is how I feel after climbing up to the Angelus Hut and hiking to Mueller ridge. I had never climbed a mountain before (since there are no mountains where I live) but the views are more than worth the climb.
    This trip is the best way to see all that the South Island has to offer, it is the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, self-exploration, and cultural immersion. Anyone can go to New Zealand and rent a car and go hiking, biking, and Kayaking; however, they will miss out on the best parts of traveling to a new place and that is the knowledge and culture that only someone who lives there would know. The guides (Tory and Vanessa) were awesome! Tory is an amazing cook, and Ness was great at making jokes and keeping the atmosphere cheery during the longer drives. I loved listening to the guides tell us about the Maori people and the local legends or folklore. I actually thought Ness was lying to me when she would tell me that the views get better after being left speechless by the scenery, but every day was better than the previous!
    I have to mention the FOOD!!! The food alone is enough for me to sign up for this trip again. When I travel I don’t always know what the local food is or would be but with this trip the guides cook you all sorts of local food and all the food is fresh and delicious. If you don’t like something they will make sure to accommodate you.
    Ness and Tory made you feel like this was a trip among friends and family, not strangers. I will come back to New Zealand again!
    Brian Heinz Review Image
    – Wisconsin, United States
    Rimu, May 2017
  •   4.48 out of 5 (from 297 reviews)

    Weka---- Best day ever--14 days running

    Capable, energetic and enthusiastic guides, great fun, exciting cycling. Exceptional vistas that took our breath away, sparking waterfalls, pristine mountains and streams, Variety of cycling from road to single track with some fun stream crossings. Guides prepared delicious meals with presentation worthy of a top end restaurant. Best Day Ever
    best trip we ever had.
    Ben Thorlakson Review Image
    – Alberta, Canada
    Weka 13-day, January 2017
  •   4.68 out of 5 (from 244 reviews)

    New Zealand and Kiwis are the Best!

    It would be difficult to overstate how impressed I was with our Active Adventure tour. Mel and Claire were absolutely incredible!! Steve was great too, but he was only with us for the hike up and back from the Aspiring Hut. Plus, he was weighed down by a rock he so generously carried up the hill for Mel.
    Anyway, Mel and Claire made Active Adventures (and New Zealand) look so good! They were EVERYTHING I could hope for: friendly, funny, knowledgeable, professional, hard-working, kind, easy-going, energetic, .... Thank you for one of the best 2-week periods of my entire life!
    Mike Schimpf Review Image
    – California, United States
    Kea, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Excellent NZ Adventures!

    My Rimu Active Adventure trip exceeded my high expectations. The hikes, backpacking, kayaking, and cycling adventures were thrilling, fun, and beautiful. Luckily for our group, we had absolutely perfect weather every day of the trip! Dani and Hilary were tremendous guides who taught me a lot about Kiwi life. Highlights for me were the 3-day backpacking tramp in Nelson Lakes National Park to Angelus Hut and kayaking in Milford Sound. I appreciated that we mostly stayed in local lodges, hotels, inns. I recommend this trip to anyone who wants to truly explore the stunningly beautiful South Island of New Zealand with wonderful friendly guides.
    Brian Holsclaw Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, March 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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