Hiking in Kaikoura
Kaikoura Coast Track. The three-day Kaikoura Coast Track walk provides uncrowded, unguided hiking and three nights accommodation along spectacular coastal farmland south of Kaikoura, for 10 people at a time maximum. Take binoculars to search out seals, sea birds, and dolphins. The walk traverses several large sheep stations before landing on the beach, passing an ancient buried forest. The total track length is 40 km (25 mi), suitable for average fitness. Bags are transferred to the next night's accommodations daily, so you only need to carry a daypack. Reservations are essential. The start point is a ¾-hour drive south of Kaikoura; public transport can drop you at the gate. 201 Conway Flat Rd., Cheviot, 7384. 03/319–2715. www.kaikouratrack.co.nz. NZ$230 per person, including bag transfers. Inquire about all-inclusive meal prices. Daily Oct.–Apr.
Kaikoura Wilderness Walks. Kaikoura Wilderness Walks will have you exploring the towering Kaikoura mountains, hiking private lands. No roughing it on this expedition. The two- and three-day guided walks include overnight accommodations in the comfy Shearwater Lodge, high above the Puhi Puhi Valley in the Seaward Kaikoura Range. Up to 12 guests can be accommodated in six super-king or twin share en suite rooms, each with their own balcony. The all-inclusive meals are served in the luxurious lounge and dining room, with its huge window overlooking the mountains. Door-to-door pickup can be arranged from Kaikoura, luggage is transferred to the lodge, all meals are provided, and the walks are fully guided. You need to be moderately fit and agile and be able to hike five to seven (mild) hours a day. Puhi Puhi Valley, Kaikoura, 7371. 03/319–6966; 0800/945–337 (NZ only). www.kaikourawilderness.co.nz. NZ$1,195 per person, two days; NZ$1,595, three days. Reservations essential. Sept–Mar., Wed. and Fri. departures.
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. A walking track around the Kaikoura Peninusla shows off the spectacular coastal scenery as well as seal and seabird colonies. You can walk one long circuit from town, around the tip of the peninsula, then back across the top; or just walk out and back along the tip from either the northern or southern sides. There are also shorter walks to lookout points. Consult the Department of Conservation's website for maps and track information. The entry point at South Bay recognizes the importance of the area to local Māori, whose ancestors lived on this stretch of coast for many generations before Europeans arrived. The first part of the track from South Bay leading to Limestone Bay is wheelchair accessible. The northern point, by the Point Kean car park, is where you are most likely to encounter seals. They might look like they're sleeping but be sure to keep a safe distance, and don't get yourself between a seal and its escape route to the sea! Penisula Walkway, Kaikoura, 7300. www.doc.govt.nz.