Kaikoura is a small coastal town on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Situated about half way between Christchurch and Blenheim, this area of New Zealand is famed for its seafood. The town is an ideal rest stop on a section of State Highway 1 that passes through isolated country both north and south of the town.
Kaikoura lies on a narrow coastal plain between high mountains and the Pacific Ocean. In places along this coast the mountains drop almost straight into the sea, with barely enough flat land for a single railway line, two lane road and rocky beach to be accommodated and even then some short tunnels are needed on corners.
The steepness of the mountains reflects the underwater geography as well and the continental shelf edge lies just offshore here. This causes the ocean around Kaikoura to be rich in sea life and attracts seals, whales (and humans) to the area to partake in the bounty of the sea.
The town itself has a similar charm to an east coast USA beach town, with a hodge podge of signs trying to grab the tourists attention. At the edges of the town, the more relaxed and nature oriented activities again take precidence.
Kaikoura is one of New Zealand's leading nature tourist destinations offering a variety of exciting Sperm whale and dolphin encounters. Despite the recent rise in tourist numbers, the town retains much of its historical charm. Many new motels, cafes and restaurants can be found in beautifully restored old buildings. Fresh local seafood is always on the menu.
The retention of the town's distinctive character has made Kaikoura extremely attractive to artists. Their work, inspired by the remarkable landscape and wildlife, can be seen all over town.