Kaikoura is an ordinary town in an extraordinary setting. The centre is stretched out along a bay and against a backdrop of majestic snow-capped mountains. Besides a good museum and the opportunity to see remains of ancient Māori settlements, there is not a lot in Kaikoura to keep you on land. Most of its attractions are in the water. The ocean here is famous for its rich marine life, making this a popular place to whale watch or swim with fur seals and dusky dolphins. If you don’t have the chance to swim with the seals, you can see them from the Omau Lookout, 20km north of town.
Kaikoura is a popular stop on the coastal route between Picton and Christchurch, but the earthquake in November 2016 closed the coastal highway (and the railway line) for more than a year so travellers coming from Picton needed to make a big detour via Murchison, fortunately the road reopened in December 2017 and Kaikoura is once again an easy stopover.