Kaikoura

The east coast of the South Island of New Zealand is home to the town of Kaikoura. The location is 180 miles north of Christchurch on State Highway 1.

There has been a 2.03 percent decrease in population since the 1996 census, as the permanent resident population is 2,172, according to the 2006 census. The town is located in the Kaikoura District, of which it is the governmental seat, in the Canterbury Region. The are is 2,046.41 km² (790.12 sq mi), and in 2006 had a population of 3,621.

Because the Kaikoura Peninsula extends into the sea to the south of town, the resulting upwelling currents carry a great deal of marine life from the bottom of Hikurangi Trench, which is located nearby. The town was created because of the whaling industry and owes its beginnings to this. The name ‘Kaikoura’ actually means a ‘meal of crayfish’ (‘kai’- food/meal, ‘koura’ — crayfish), which is natural given that the crayfish industry still plays a key part in the economy of the area. Kaikoura’s popularity as a tourist destination has increased in recent years, mainly due to whale watches and dolphin swimming. On the eastern edge of the town is a large, observable colony of Southern Fur Seals. At low tide, you can see the seals better because the ocean recedes to a rocky base, which can be easily traveled on foot for quite a distance.

To view seabirds such as albatrosses, an open ocean seabird, this is one of the most accessible places found in the world.

Fyffe House

The Southern Alps slope down towards the sea near this point, and this is the reason the town’s view of the Seaward Kaikoura mountains is so beautiful. As a result, there are lots of walking trails that go up and around the mountains. A common destination for many of the tourists is the Mt. Fyffe track with ends up at Mt. Fyffe, giving a panoramic view from the summit of the peninsula of Kaikoura.

The Fyffe House is maintained by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Mt. Fyffe name is named for the Fyffe family because they were the first family to settle in Kaikoura. The small house that was their home was built in 1842 and is still in the same location. Today, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust maintains it as a tourist attraction. Whalebone is used in the construction of the house’s supporting foundations which makes it very unusual.

Weather averages for Kaikoura
Month
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Year
Average high °C (°F)
20.6

(69)

20

(68)

18.8

(66)

16.6

(62)

14.1

(57)

11.6

(53)

10.9

(52)

11.5

(53)

13.6

(56)

15.3

(60)

16.9

(62)

19.1

(66)

15.7

(60)

Average low °C (°F)
12.8

(55)

12.8

(55)

11.9

(53)

9.9

(50)

7.7

(46)

5.8

(42)

5.1

(41)

5.6

(42)

6.7

(44)

8.2

(47)

9.8

(50)

11.7

(53)

9

(48)

Precipitation mm (inches)
47

(1.85)

59

(2.32)

92

(3.62)

81

(3.19)

71

(2.8)

75

(2.95)

80

(3.15)

78

(3.07)

70

(2.76)

74

(2.91)

60

(2.36)

54

(2.13)

844

(33.23)

Source: NIWA Climate Data 1971 – 2000

The town can be found on the northern part of the South Island main trunk railway on State Highway 1. There is also a sealed, small airstrip to the south, about 6 km, of the main center in Kaikoura. The Kaikoura airstrip is primarily used by Wings over Whales and Air Kaikoura – Kaikoura Aero Club that sponsors flights for tourists who are interested in whale spotting, and it is also used by small private and charter flights. Sounds Air also uses it two days a week for return flights to Wellington.

The section of the South Island Main Trunk that is in the northern section, or the Main North Line, serves Kaikoura. The railway opened to the town on 15 December 1945, seventy years after a line to the town was planned; this was because of the hilly terrain located north and south of the township.

You can reach Kaikoura by the TranzCoastal long-distance passenger train. This rail line connects Kaikoura with Christchurch to the south, and the ferries at Picton and the Cook Strait in the north. Closed in 1988 after refreshments were introduced on the Coastal Pacific Express (originally called the TranzCoastal), the Kaikoura Station was the last New Zealand station to have a passenger refreshment room.

You will also find freight trains going through town. Mostly they carry freight between the marshaling yards at Middleton in Christchurch, and the Interislander rail ferries at Picton.

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