15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura

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What Can You Do for Free (or Cheap) in Kaikoura?

We get it! In between the dolphin swims, whale watch cruises and eating plates of crayfish, doing things in Kaikoura can get a little pricey. Give your wallet a break by also spending your time doing the free and cheap things to do in Kaikoura! From gentle walks to free seal colony viewings to checking out the local museums, there’s a wide range of things to do that are either free or at least under NZ$30! Check out some of our top recommendations in this list of free and cheap things to do in Kaikoura.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in Kaikoura – Guide for Backpackers and The Guide to Kaikoura on a Budget.

1. Walk the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway – FREE

Stretching your legs is always a fun and free thing to do, especially when there are seals involved! The 11 km (7 mi) Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is one of Kaikoura’s most popular walks, encompassing dramatic coastal scenery matched with lookouts over seal colonies. If you’re not feeling up to doing the whole walk, there are shorter options available. Find out more about them in the 5 Best Walks in Kaikoura.

Location: Point Kean car park, 4.4 km (2.7 mi) from Kaikoura (it is possible to walk to the start of the walk along the walkways lining the coast south of the town. Allow 50 minutes. At the end of the walk at South Bay, you can walk back to the town following the marked posts. Allow a further 1 hour).

Pixabay© Pixabay

2. Watch the Seals at the Point Kean Car Park – FREE

If you don’t fancy doing a hike but still want an easy way to spot some seals, then drive down to the Point Kean Car Park. The car park near the end of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is a 5-minute drive from town where you can park up and watch the seals bask in the sun. Be careful though, some seals take up the car parking spaces, so parking is limited. If you do have room in your budget for a wildlife encounter, check out more suggestions for the 5 Top Wildlife Activities in Kaikoura.

Location: Point Kean car park, 4.4 km (2.7 mi) from Kaikoura at the end of Fyfee Quay Road.©

3. Visit the Kaikoura Museum – CHEAP

If the weather isn’t playing ball or you’re simply curious, head to the Kaikoura Museum. Set in the “Craypot” building opposite the i-SITE, the Kaikoura Museum features fascinating exhibitions about the local wildlife, Maori tribes, fishing and whaling history, as well as information about the 2016 earthquake. There is a fee of under NZ$15 to check out this museum, which is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily.

Location: 96 West End, Kaikoura.

15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura© Neat Places Kaikoura - Destination Kaikoura

4. Watch a Sheep Shearing Show – CHEAP

While the whales, dolphins and seals may steal all the limelight in Kaikoura, there’s also the opportunity to meet some of the other animals New Zealand has become famous for – sheep! Point Sheep Shearing at The Point B&B & Campsite offers daily sheep shearing shows for as little as NZ$15 per adult and NZ$5 per child (prices subject to change). The show takes place in a classic New Zealand woolshed where you’ll learn about the various wool types, sheep breeds and traditional techniques and tools, some still used to this day. The highlights, arguably, are hand-feeding the majestic Drysdale Ram and even bottle-feeding the lambs; the latter available between August and January.

Location: 85 Fyffe Quay, Kaikoura.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura©

5. See Kaikoura’s Oldest Surviving Building – CHEAP

Sitting pretty in pink, about a 45-minute walk from the town centre along the Kaikoura Peninsula, Fyffe House is Kaikoura’s oldest surviving building. The heritage home not only makes a fun photo opportunity but can be explored on the inside by paying a small fee. The home also holds some simple exhibitions and archives about life in Kaikoura in the 1800s.

Location: 62 Avoca Street, Kaikoura.©

6. Get a Photo on Kaikoura Beach – FREE

Feel the sea breeze and soak in the scenery from Kaikoura Beach. The beach spans in front of the town, offering picture-perfect views of the Kaikoura mountains. If you’re feeling brave, the beach is safe to swim in summer, and local surf schools have even found a new surf break off the beach after the 2016 earthquake.

Location: Kaikoura waterfront.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura© Unsplash

7. Check Out the Kaikoura Farmers’ Market – FREE

Ok, so you need to time this right, as the Kaikoura Farmers’ Market only runs from October to April each Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm. Nevertheless, if you are lucky enough to be in Kaikoura at this time, you’ll be treated to browsing home baking, artisan goods, fresh organic produce and crafts; some of which you can sample.

Location: West End, Kaikoura town centre.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura©

8. Wake Up Early for the Sunrise – FREE

Kaikoura sits on the east coast of New Zealand meaning it captures some incredible sunrises on a clear day. You won’t struggle for spots on the coast to admire the views, whether it’s from Kaikoura Beach or from your waterfront accommodation. Check out which accommodations are on the waterfront in the 10 Best Hotels & Places to Stay or 15 Best Budget Accommodations in Kaikoura.

Location: Kaikoura waterfront.©

9. Try Some of the Local Seafood – CHEAP

Compared to the rest of the country, dining in Kaikoura isn’t exactly cheap. Especially when the town’s speciality is the highly-sought crayfish. Getting a meal of half a crayfish can start from around NZ$30, but can definitely get more expensive! Alternatively, other seafood like whitebait or paua fritters offers a cheap meal option while still getting that local foodie experience. Try the seafood at Nin’s Bin, Kaikoura Seafood BBQ, Coopers Catch and Cods & Crayfish.

Location: Nin’s Bin – State Highway 1, approximately 22 km (13.6 mi) from Kaikoura. Kaikoura Seafood BBQ – 55 Fyffe Quay. Coopers Catch – 9 West End. Cods & Crayfish – 81 Beach Road.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura© ChristchurchNZ

10. Challenge Your Family or Friends to a Round of Mini-Golf – CHEAP

Get a little bit of healthy competition at The Emporium mini-golf! The 18-hole mini-golf course is a good way to spend 30 minutes to an hour putting your way through Kaikoura-themed holes. See if you can get your ball past the whale fluke or around the cattle stranded on an island from the Kaikoura earthquakes. With prices just over NZ$10 and cheaper yet for kids, it’s surely an affordable thing to do in Kaikoura.

Location: 57a Beach Road, Kaikoura.

15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura© Neat Places Kaikoura - Destination Kaikoura

11. Check Out the Classic Cars at Harmons Motor Museum – CHEAP

Step into another era – in another country, nonetheless – at the American-style Bernie’s Diner and Harmons Classic Car Museum. Admire the sleek rides of this ever-increasing classic car and motor memorabilia collection (a small fee applies) and enhance the experience by dining in one of the colourful booths of this American diner with the cuisine to match the setting.

Location: 57a Beach Road, Kaikoura.

15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura© Neat Places Kaikoura - Destination Kaikoura

12. Admire the Maori Artwork and Seal Colonies Along the Kaikoura Coastline – FREE

If you’re up for a bit of a road trip, or for something to do on the way in and out of Kaikoura, stop by the numerous lookouts and picnic areas decorated with Maori sculptures along a 60 km (37 mi) stretch of Kaikoura coastline. Known as the Cultural Artwork Trail, there are more than 20 sites to admire – all in safe stopping areas so you can park your vehicle with ease and peace of mind. There are a couple of excellent sites to admire seal colonies too, including the Ohau Point Lookout and the Hikurangi Marine Reserve near Goose Bay.

Location: Sites start from Clarence in the north to Oaro in the south.

15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura© Dan Kerins - Destination Kaikoura

13. Hike the Mt Fyffe Summit Track – FREE

For a full or half-day adventure with breathtaking views, do the Mt Fyffe Track to the summit. The steep track starts crossing farmland on a 3-hour walk to the Mt Fyffe Hut (or 5 hours return). It’s another 1 hour to reach the summit (or 2 hours to return). Mountain bikers can also use this trail. Again, check out the 5 Best Walks in Kaikoura, all of which are free.

Location: Postmans Road, 13 km (8 mi) northwest of Kaikoura.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura©

14. Enjoy a Stroll in the Forest on the Hinau Track – FREE

This walk is named after the stands of hinau trees featured along the trail. The Hinau Track is a stunning bush walk with varied vegetation: mahoe, putaputaweta, broadleaf, fuschia, pigeonwood and kanuka can all be seen here. This walk starts from the Mt Fyffe car park.

Location: Postmans Road, 13 km (8 mi) northwest of Kaikoura.

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura©

15. Experience Kaikoura’s Cycle Trails – FREE

Only free if, of course, you have your own bike, there’s plenty of two-wheel fun to be had in and around Kaikoura! From the easy-going 42 km Kaikoura Trail to the rugged grade-4 trails of the Clarence Reserve, there’s something for all riders and experience levels. Enquire with the Kaikoura Cycling Club to learn more, while more information about cycling in New Zealand, in general, can be found in our Cycling & Mountain Biking in New Zealand Guide.

Location: All over Kaikoura!

10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura©

More Free and Cheap Things to Do in Kaikoura

That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Kaikoura. For more affordable experiences, take a look at the following guides:

For more free stuff, check out the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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