1. Eat some crays
The thing to do in Kaikōura is to eat crayfish. Kaikōura literally means ‘eat crayfish’ in Māori, because the place used to be brimming with these delicacies. Legend has it that there used to be so many crays they would wash up on the beaches after storms and you could just grab them.
Nowadays it’s a bit more tricky but it’s definitely one the most local things you must do while in this part of Canterbury. Check out the iconic Nin's Bin in Halfmoon Bay, or the Kaikōura Seafood BBQ kiosk on Fyffe Quay will also sort you out with some excellent kaimoana.
2. Get lost along back-country farm roads
There are some amazing back-country farm roads in inland Kaikōura just waiting to be explored. Just north of Kaikōura itself, you’ll find the Puhi Puhi Valley which is just stunning as it heads inland towards the mountains on Puhi Puhi Road.
Here you’ll find old-school farms and campsites, great mountain views and stunning green valleys and rivers. It’s beautiful in all weather. Same with Blue Duck Valley Road. Kaikōura is so much more than the seaside beaches so be sure to head up into the mountains too.
3. Walk along a black pebble beach
If you know where to look, one of the best beaches near Kaikōura is actually about a 45-minute drive north towards Kēkerengū.
With the verdant green mountains in the background and bright blue water along a spectacular long beach, it feels like you’ve discovered a remote island.
Many of the beaches around Kaikōura are stunning black sand and pebbles, making a nice change from the white sandy beaches many of us are accustomed to. Often you’ll only have to share the beach with the local seals, but don’t be fooled, the turquoise water is far from tropical.
4. Dinner at Hapuku Lodge
Sometimes we all need a really nice dinner out in a spectacular location, and dining at Hapuku Lodge in Kaikōura fits that bill perfectly.
The treehouse accommodation is one of my favourites in New Zealand, and while it can be quite pricey, a dinner on site is fantastic, especially if you are celebrating something special. Be sure to give yourself enough time to enjoy the grounds and space.