Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Kaikoura is the place where the mountains meet the sea. Also a perfect destination for a day trip from Christchurch, Kaikoura is famous for its incredible wildlife experiences. However, there is a lot more to do than whale watching in this amazing little town. Whether you’re traveling solo or with your family, I’ve rounded up 10 free and cheap things to do in Kaikoura that everybody will love.
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1. Hike the Peninsula Walkway
The Peninsula walkway is probably Kaikoura’s most popular short hike and for good reason. This stunning coastal walk offers incredible vistas on the surrounding mountains, the coast, and the wildlife populating the area. It’s a beautiful walk accessible to all. You can start the track in Point Kean, right after you watched the seal colony, or from the other side in South Bay. You can walk the track along the coast one way and join the clifftop when you return. You’ll get fantastic views of both the coast and the headlands, with many places to stop and enjoy the area. The track takes around 3 hours to complete.
Price – free
2. Observe the seal colony
Kaikoura is the best place in New Zealand to watch seals in their natural habitat. Indeed, Kaikoura is home to a major fur seal colony that lives there year long. The seals can be seen at Point Kean, which you can easily reach by car. Once parked, a short walk to the sea will lead you to the seals. Actually, you might even see them in the car park. You can get quite close to the animals as they are used to seeing humans, but be respectful and don’t try to touch them. The creatures used to live both in Ohau point and Point Kean, but unfortunately, the Ohau Point track has been closed due to earthquake damages.
Price – free, seals can be seen year round.
3. Have some fun at Emporium Brewing
Emporium Brewing is famous in Kaikoura for its amazing craft beers. But, there’s a lot more to it. In fact, at the Emporium, you can play mini golf with your children or have some fun in one of the escape rooms. This place is perfect for a cheap day out with kids, and at the end of the day, you can reward yourself with one of their delicious beers. If you’re visiting Kaikoura on a rainy day, go to the Emporium, you’ll love it.
Price – mini golf adults: $10, children $5, family ticket $25 (2 adults + up to 3 children). The course is open daily from 10am-7pm. Escape room: 2 Players – $35 per person, 3-4 Players – $30 per person.
4. Take a stroll along the beach
Kaikoura is home to some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in New Zealand, and lucky for you, they are free. Not far from the township, you’ll find Kaikoura beach which offers incredible views of the Alps in the background. Going north, you can take a stroll along Black Pebbles beach, a very quiet beach where you can sometimes spot seals. Whether you want to enjoy a stroll, a picnic or watch the sunset, the beaches of Kaikoura are not to miss. In the summer months, you can even swim in the ocean.
Price – free
5. Take a tour of the Fyffe house
Fyffe House is Kaikoura’s oldest building and was, at the time, a pioneer whaling station. Established in 1842, Fyffe house retraces Kaikoura’s whaling history as well as the history of the three families that lived there. The pretty pink house is very special. Indeed, it was built on whale bones. This beautiful place is on the list of Heritage New Zealand properties. In the museum, you can see many artifacts and furniture from the time the house was built. Fyffe House lies along the shoreline and offers stunning views of the sea and snow-capped mountain. From Kaikoura city center, you can reach the museum by following the coastal walk that goes to Point Kean. It takes about 45 minutes.
Price – Adults: $10, children: free. Open daily between October and April from 10am to 5pm. Open Thursday to Monday between May and September from 10am to 4pm. Closed Good Friday, Anzac Day until 1pm and Christmas Day.
6. Learn about the town’s history at the Kaikoura museum
Kaikoura is a small town, but it’s home to one of the most stunning museums in New Zealand. For only $12, you can enjoy going through the city’s history at the Kaikoura museum. You’ll learn about the early Maori settlement, the fishing, and whaling industry and you’ll discover a collection of unique and quirky items from Kaikoura. This very informative and interactive museum also has a great exhibit on the 2016 earthquakes, which is very well made, fascinating and moving. If you want to learn more about this stunning coastal village, don’t miss this museum when visiting Kaikoura.
Price – Adults: $12.00, seniors and students: $10.00, children: $6.00, family: $30.00 (2 adults and up to 4 children). Open daily from 10am to 5pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
7. Take beautiful pictures of Kaikoura’s lavender fields
Lavendyl lavender farm is definitely a beautiful place to visit in Kaikoura. For only $2, you can walk around the big lavender field, enjoy the peace of nature, admire the surrounding mountains and take beautiful photographs. This place is truly amazing for photo ops and is definitely one of the most instagrammable places in Kaikoura. You’ll get to see bees at work, try some lavender ice cream and you can even buy some lavender flavored honey. Their souvenir shop is the perfect place to find unique gifts from Kaikoura. The best time to visit this beautiful farm is from mid-December until March when the lavender is in bloom.
Price – $2
8. Taste some cheese at the Kaikoura Cheese shop
Are you a foodie looking for a free thing to do in Kaikoura? Head to Kaikoura Cheese, a very popular shop in town. With its delicious artisan cheese, but also artisanal olives, crackers, and cured meats, this beautiful shop is simply a delight. If you’re a cheese lover, stop by to taste some of the most delicious cheese you’ll ever have.
Price – Samples are usually offered for free
9. Have breakfast at Hislops Cafe
Hislops Cafe is a cute eatery located in the heart of Kaikoura. This award-winning restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious breakfast. With their tasty food, amazing atmosphere, and fantastic service, you’ll love Hislops Cafe. On top of that, they have great coffee and cater for vegetarians and vegans. They offer reasonable prices and are often full in high season, so get there early.
Price – $8 and up for food
10. Learn about farming at the Point Sheep Shearing Show
New Zealand is the best place on earth to go to a sheep shearing show. And there is one in Kaikoura that’s really worth a visit. Informative and interactive, the Point Sheep Shearing Show will give you a little taste of sheep farming in New Zealand. You’ll get to learn about the industry, feed a ram and watch a demonstration of sheep shearing. When it’s lambing season, you can even bottle feed lambs and take pictures with them. The farm offers daily shows year round, so don’t miss this place on your visit to Kaikoura.
Price – $12, there are daily shows year round
Kaikoura is one of the most beautiful coastal towns on the South Island of New Zealand. Travelers often stop there for a whale watching tour before heading north. But, if you can stay for a few days, you should definitely enjoy the free and cheap things to do in Kaikoura. Whether you want to visit the museum, watch a sheep shearing show or simply check out the seal colony, you’ll have a lot of fun in Kaikoura. Have you ever been to Kaikoura? Let me know in the comments below!
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