Kaikoura - 'meal of crayfish'
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.
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:
Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$5299 + tax
This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.
Kiwi South Island Explorer
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$5599 + tax
New to adventure vacations or not quite ready to hang up your hiking boots just yet? On this South Island walking tour you'll experience beautiful, famous and little-known places – taking plenty of time to explore along the way! For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5 day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Kiwi’ suits anyone who enjoys walking and likes to give things a go. The pace is flexible and relaxed with most hikes taking one to three hours to complete on well-formed tracks with some undulations.