When I got off the ferry in the south island of New Zealand there was not much of a plan on where to go. We had considered staying in Picton longer but on the way over we were talking to a family that recommended Kaikoura because of a hike that took you to a waterfall where baby seals like to play, which was enough of a reason. Plus Picton had a couple unsettling playground statues that I wanted to put some distance between.
On the drive to Kaikoura there were grown seals lounging around the side of the road. The first time we were excited and pulled over, by the 3rd time we were definitely pretty tired of seals.
Kaikoura offers a few activities that, depending on the time of the year, are equally enticing. There’s whale watching, penguins, seals, and hiking. The town itself has a decent choice of hangout options too. As a side note can someone from New Zealand explain why every town, no matter how small, has a mini golf course? I’m not complaining, mini golf is awesome, but there may be a national obsession.
We took to the waterfall trail to see if we could find some baby seals. The trail itself only takes maybe a half hour if you are sauntering so overall the difficulty is low. Plus along the way you will see small seals making their way up the stream to the waterfall. They desperately want to play with you and you must resist touching them. It is still one of the hardest things I have done.
The waterfall itself is also pretty gratifying. It isn’t very large but you can get up close to watching the seals play in it.
Depending on the time of year you visit apparently this place can get overrun with seals as well, which would be an OK way to die in my opinion.
Another fun option in Kaikoura is to walk the ridge around the city up against the ocean. If you go during the right time of the year you can see the whales from it. We were not there at that time but, as you may have guessed, there were plenty of seals and a pretty scenic view.
When we got back to the parking lot there was an issue with baby seals laying underneath the cars which is funny and adorable now but at the time very stressful. If I had ran over a baby seal I would have just ended the trip right there.
Kaikoura also offers whale watching, which we opted out of and also a swim with dolphins, which we did do. The weather was a bit choppy which made the trip interesting enough but we did see a few dolphins. Additionally, because we didn’t see a giant pod like they promised we were given a discount to try again later but we were actually pretty satisfied with what we got. Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures of the experience so I guess I’ll just have to go again sometime to make up for that. Overall, I think Kaikoura is a very solid destination in New Zealand and I think it is an easy way to kill at least a couple days.
I’m starting to notice a wildlife theme in my posts and that definitely isn’t going to stop anytime soon.