Kaikoura Peninsula Walk

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Where: Kaikoura Peninsula, Kaikoura
Distance & Time: Anything from 1hr – 4 hours, depending on route taken
Take: Camera, sunscreen, water
Amenities on route: Bathroom + carparks at start + end of walk
Cost of the walk: Free

This was my first time in Kaikoura since the earthquakes that rocked the area in November 2016. I’m sure many of you saw the images of cows floating on islands of grass, twisted train tracks, and the coastal roads covered in debris from landslides. So I was interested to see what it was like now, and *spoiler alert*, Kaikoura is quite possibly my new favourite place in Aotearoa.

One of the predominant reasons that people visit Kaikoura is for the wildlife. The sealife here is spectacular, and the seals in particular are EVERYWHERE. The best thing is that we visited in summer, when all the baby seals were out in force and let me tell you, baby seals are pretty much the cutest thing ever. And watching seal families hanging out and splashing in rock pools – I could do that for hours.

Coastal section of the walk, and some of the incredible rock formations

The peninsula walk can be walked in a combination of ways. You can walk fully around the coast (be mindful of the tides) or over the hills, or a mixture of both. Which is what we did.

We started from the northern carpark, where we didn’t move very far to begin with as there was so much to explore right there. The rocky shoreline was incredible and went out so far, but you had to be careful where you went as it was very easy to round a corner or go down the rocks to come across a sleeping seal!

The seals are just amazing. They seem to choose the most uncomfortable and random places to flop down and nap, but they seem to be content, as long as you don’t get between them and the sea. Some of them would raise their heads to check us out as we walked past, but mostly they seemed to used to seeing lots of people strolling past.

There’s no path as such to follow, just walk the coastline, until about half way where you’ll see a reasonable sized knoll with a path heading up it. If you walk up there you’ll get a pretty great view of the coastline you’ve just walked, and what’s to come. Here is also where you have a choice to either keep following the coastline round to South Bay, or head up the hill and take the clifftop walk. Which is what we did. The cliff walk goes quite quickly, and we were obviously not as close to the seals, but the walk takes in a mix of farmland, bush and pine forest. It finishes at the South Bay Reserve in Kaikoura.

The knoll, where you can either head up to the cliff section of the walk, or continue round the coast

We made the decision the following day to reverse the walk and finish the part of the coastline that we didn’t do the previous day, so we retraced our steps from the South Bay Reserve up to the path that took us back down to the knoll and followed the coastline round to South Bay. I’m really glad we did this as it meant we got the full experience! There were lots more seals, a few caves (one of which had a seal outside guarding it), spectacular rock formations, heaps of sea birds, and lots of rock hopping. There were a few people out snorkelling, fishing and boating around this side of the peninsula too, so there was lots to see!

It’s not a difficult walk, in that we didn’t get a sweat up or have sore legs afterwards, but if you’re not good on unstable ground – stones, rocks, sea floor etc, it could be a little tricky for you on the coastal walk. I could imagine it would also be slippery if it was raining too.

Take lots of sunscreen/hat/sunglasses for the walk though as there is no shade. If you left your car at the northern end of the peninsula you’ll either have to head back to it along the coastal or cliff track, or head back via one of the other tracks over the peninsula, which can take a while, so make sure you take some snacks too!

Thank you for coming and having a look around my site! If you like what you see, or you have found it informative, please consider buying me a coffee – thank you, and enjoy getting out for your next walk!

The photos were taken by Paul + I!

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