G’day, guys! I just returned from my 2-week trip to New Zealand and wow, did I have a fabulous time! I was lucky enough to explore both the North and South Islands this time around, stopping at places like Waiheke Island and Rotorua in the North, followed by Franz Josef, Blenhiem, Kaikoura, and Queenstown in the stunning South.
Last year, Kaikoura suffered from a large earthquake that heavily affected access to the region. However, crews have been hard at work and State Highway 1 (the major road on the east coast of the South Island) is set to reopen on December 15. Now that Kaikoura will soon be easily accessible again, I thought I’d share my insider tips on this beautiful little town known for its abundant marine life, including whales and dolphins.
Kaikoura has accommodations for any budget—but if you can splurge, I would definitely recommend staying at Hapuku Lodge + Treehouses! A 15-minute drive out of town, it sits at the base of the Kaikoura seaward mountain range and the views are incredibly beautiful. It’s also located on a deer breeding farm, so you can spot deer in the mountains while sitting by the fire in your living room. There’s no better way to enjoy your morning coffee or pre-dinner wine!
Image via Hapuku Lodge + Treehouses
The view from our room at Hapuku Lodge
See and Do
Kaikoura is a destination for all seasons, and offers adventures for everyone. You can go on hikes and short walks in the mountains, spot the local marine wildlife, go out for a fishing excursion, or kayak around the beautiful peninsula, to name just a few.
Swimming with the playful dusky dolphins was definitely a highlight of this trip for me! In Kaikoura, these guys can be found in pods of up to several hundred. Dolphin Encounter operates amazing tours where they kit you up in all the wetsuit gear and you travel by boat out to the pod. It’s incredible how much the dolphins love to play and interact with the swimmers. Whilst they duck and weave between you, you become part of their world for a short while.
Image via Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura
Wine and Dine
A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the amazing seafood in Kaikoura. While a lot of the restaurants in this region are on the casual side, that doesn’t take away from the delicious menu options. Some of my favourite restaurants in the area include: Black Rabbit Pizza, Green Dolphin Restaurant + Bar, Koura Bay Lodge, The Whaler, and Zephyr Restaurant. With that said, I also can’t overlook the amazing food served at Hapuku Lodge, featuring a fresh, locally sourced, 3-course a la carte dinner each evening, as well as a delicious breakfast.
Salmon ceviche at Hapuku Lodge
Want to learn more about Kaikoura and New Zealand? Give me a call at (312) 951-8517 to start planning your own adventure!