Things to do in Kaikoura

There is much more to see and do in Kaikoura than many visitors realise! To make the most of your stay, we recommend that you spend at least two nights and two full days here.

Bear in mind that the weather and sea conditions can be very changeable. It is advisable to build some flexibility into your itinerary, particularly if you wish to enjoy any of our world-class marine excursions, as schedules can sometimes be changed at short notice. Advance reservations for the popular marine and land-based attractions are strongly recommended, particularly during the summer months. The ocean is normally at its most calm early in the morning, and so we recommend choosing early morning marine excursions.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

The waters off the coast of Kaikoura are home to an abundance of marine life, most notably the giant sperm whales which come here to feed here throughout the year. This world-class visitor experience has won numerous international eco-tourism awards and is a must-do excursion whilst in Kaikoura.

Wings over Whales

Take a 30 minute fixed-wing aircraft flight and get a whole new perspective on our local marine life and landscape. See different whale species, orca, dolphins and other wildlife from the air.

Kaikoura Helicopters

Flying by helicopter is a magical sensation and Kaikoura Helicopters offers New Zealand”s only helicopter whale watching experience.

Dolphin Encounter and Albatross Encounter

Two further must-do sea excursions offering amazing wildlife viewing experiences. Dolphin Encounter takes you to swim with dusky dolphins in their natural ocean habitat, or to photograph them and their acrobatic displays from the decks of the boat. One of Kaikoura”s best kept secrets is its incredible diversity of ocean-going birds, and is the albatross capital of the world with up to 14 different species visiting the area throughout the year. The Albatross Encounter tours take you a few kilometres off shore to view these extraordinary birds in close proximity.

Maori Tours

Family-operated, and winner of the award for “Best Cultural Experience in New Zealand” for three years running, this is a highly recommended and popular tour exploring the rich Maori heritage in Kaikoura.

Images Abound

Creative landscape photography workshops, run from Manakau Lodge and designed for photographers of all levels of enthusiasm and experience. Field-based excursions taking in the mountains, rivers, coastal scenery and wildlife around Kaikoura. Available May-September.

Quad Biking

An exhilarating off-road quad-biking experience through native bush, with spectacular views of the Kaikoura coast and rocky coves and bluffs to the south of us.


We have two golf courses – Kaikoura Golf Club is located a few kilometres south of the town off State Highway 1. We also have a nine hole course at Koura Bay, five minutes from the Lodge.

Dive Kaikoura

The Kaikoura coastline is abundant with sea life which makes diving with our local 5-star PADI centre an unforgettable experience. All abilities, including beginners, are welcome.

Surfing with Board Silly

Manakau Lodge is just minutes from one of New Zealand”s best surf breaks. Learn to surf with local instructor Dave Lyons.

The Rodfather – Fishing and Dive Charters

Operating out of the Kaikoura Hunting and Fishing store, the Rodfather’s professional team offers the ultimate in private fishing and diving charters off the Kaikoura coast.

Kaikoura Kayaks

Get up close and personal with New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins, and rare Hectors dolphins, with hourly, half day or full day kayak trips on the ocean.

New Zealand Fur Seal Colonies

We have two seal colonies near us, one at Ohau Point around 15 minutes from the Lodge, and another at Point Kean, on the tip of the Kaikoura Peninsula. During the winter months, see seal pups at play under the waterfall at Ohau Stream.

Swim with Seals

A unique experience, swimming with fur seals in the shallow waters off the Kaikoura Peninsula.


Kaikoura is known as the seafood capital of New Zealand and we have a choice of restaurants offering menus of locally-caught, freshly-prepared fish and seafood dishes. Specialities include groper, blue cod, mussels, paua and of course, the town”s namesake, crayfish, (known elsewhere as “rock lobster”). We also have a variety of other restaurants, bars, cafes and takeaways with menus to suit all tastes and budgets.