Located on a rocky peninsula extending from lush farmland beneath the mountains, Kaikōura is the gateway for Ngāi Tahu and the northernmost town in the Canterbury region.
Its name describes the feast of Tama ki te Rangi, a famous early explorer who stopped in the area on his way from the North Island and ate some of the plentiful crayfish over an open fire. Te Ahi Kaikōura a Tama ki te Rangi – the fires where Tama ki te Rangi ate crayfish – was shortened over time to Kaikōura.
Today the resident population of 3,800 host more than 900,000 visitors annually. Kaikōura’s beautiful coastal waters are home to a complex marine system which provides an abundant habitat for an array of marine mammals and bird life. Sperm whales share the ocean with dusky dophins, fur seals, albatross, and migrating species such as Hector’s dolphins, humpback whales and orca.
In 2011 Kaikōura became the first destination in the Southern Hemisphere to gain an Earthcheck Gold Community certification as a result of its commitment to sustainability. Platinum Certification followed in 2014.
In November 2016 the natural environment changed forever when a complex sequence of ruptures on multiple faultlines lifted the sea level of the bay and surrounding region by as much as two metres, revealing more new and beautiful landscapes.