5 Best Walks in Kaikoura© ChristchurchNZ
5 Best Walks in Kaikoura

10 Best Walks & Hikes in Kaikoura

© ChristchurchNZ
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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Short Walks, Day Walks and Multi-Day Hikes in Kaikoura

Let’s be honest, not all of us can afford to swim with dolphins or take a flight over whales every day. While we fully recommend discovering the adorable wildlife of Kaikoura, we also recommend breaking up your stay with one of the free walks in Kaikoura. Walks and hikes in the Kaikoura area feature a variety of landscapes, from coastlines occupied by seals to stunning views from the Kaikoura Seaward Mountain Ranges. Find out where to stretch your legs with this list of hiking and walking trails in Kaikoura.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in 5 Top Wildlife Activities in Kaikoura and 20 Best Things to Do in Kaikoura.

1. Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway (1-2 Hours One Way)

One of the most popular walks in the Kaikoura area, the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway starts at a seal colony at Point Kean. The walk starts with a 5-minute climb to the Point Kean Viewpoint offering excellent views across the coast to the Kaikoura Ranges.

From the viewpoint, it’s a 25-minute walk to the Whalers Bay Viewpoint offering more fantastic views of the rugged coastline. There is a short side track to Whalers Bay to get a closer look at “The Sugarloaf” and spot wildlife. Be careful not to approach or disturb wildlife. Return the way you came back to the Whalers Bay Viewpoint.

From here, continue 20 minutes to South Bay Viewpoint for more scenery to soak in. The track ends 15 minutes away at the South Bay car park. The walk also features interpretation panels to learn about the flora, fauna and history of the area.

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).

ChristchurchNZ© ChristchurchNZ

2. Puhi Puhi Reserve (30-Minute Loop)

Enjoy this easy-going walk through lush native forest. The Puhi Puhi Reserve Track features lowland coastal forest where many of the trees here are up to 1,000 years old. There is also a picnic area at the start of the walk.

Location: Puhi Puhi Road, 15 km (9 mi) north of Kaikoura.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

3. Hinau Track (45-Minute Loop)

This walk is named after the stands of hinau trees featured along the trail. The Hinau Track is a stunning bushwalk 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: End of Chapmans Road, 13 km (8 mi) northwest of Kaikoura.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Mt Fyffe Summit Track (8 Hours Return to the Summit/5 Hours Return to Mt Fyffe Hut/2 Hours Return to Firepond Lookout)

For a full-day adventure with breathtaking views, do the Mt Fyffe Track to the summit. The steep 4WD 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) where you are rewarded with outstanding views – even all the way to the Banks Peninsula and the North Island on a clear day. Those looking for a shorter walk will get good views from the lookout near the firepond, approximately a one-hour walk from the Mt Fyffe car park. Note that Mountain bikers can also use this trail.

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

Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia© Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia

5. Kowhai-Hapuku Circuit (2-3 Days)

Another one starting/ending at the Mt Fyffe car park, the Kowhai-Hapuku Circuit (2-3 days) is a rewarding “tramp” for those with route-finding skills and backcountry experience.

The first part of the trail is a 4-hour stint up an unmarked riverbed from Grange Road to Hapuku Gorge. There are diversions around rubble caused by the 2016 earthquake leading to the Hapuku Hut.

Next, the 6-hour hike between the Hapuku Hut and Kowhai Hut follows the river through mature forest to the highest point on the walk at 1,153 m (3,783 ft). Follow marker poles over this exposed saddle, where the weather can change quickly, before descending to the Kowhai Hut.

Finally, it’s a 3-hour descent through manuka and a braided river to the Mt Fyffe car park.

Location: It is recommended to start this hike from the end of Grange Road, 13 km (8 mi) north of Kaikoura.

10 Best Walks & Hikes in Kaikoura© Uta Purcell - Department of Conservation

6. Haumuri Bluff (4-5 Hours Return)

For an adventure away from the crowds, choose the Haumari Bluff Walk. The walk has many interesting things to see along the way, including a rusting train wreck, large seals (be careful not to get too close – they are not used to seeing people like the ones closer to Kaikoura), and minerals and fossils along the beach.

The walk begins in Oaro, following a trail alongside a railway line for about 50 minutes until the trail ends and you will need to make your way onto the rocky beach below. Walk along the beach for about 40 minutes until you reach a limestone stack that used to be an arch that separated from the cliffs. This is called Spy Glass Point. Return the same way.

Note that this walk should only be attempted at low tide.

Location: Oaro, 20 km (12 mi) south of Kaikoura.

nut.in.a.hut on Wikipedia © nut.in.a.hut on Wikipedia

7. Fyffe-Palmer Track (1 h 45 mins Loop)

This short walk features great views, farmland and native forest. Start the Fyffe-Palmer Track at the end of Mt Fyffe Road and follow the poles and climbing fences all while enjoying views of Kaikoura. You’ll soon enter the native forest of the Fyffe-Palmer Scenic Reserve, which loops back the way you came.

Location: End of Mt Fyffe Road (not the same as the Mt Fyffe car park), 8.5 km (5.3 mi) northwest of Kaikoura.

10 Best Walks & Hikes in Kaikoura© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Kaikoura Coast Track (2 Days)

Experience a more premium form of hiking on the Kaikoura Coast Track. This private walking trail takes 2 days to complete, allowing hikers to discover dramatic coastlines, tussock-covered coastal cliffs and lush farmland. Tramp through bush-filled gullies to emerge to views of the Kaikoura Mountains. The exclusive experience only allows 10 people on the track at one time and features services like luggage transport, catering, and warm clean hiker’s cottages are available. Discover more upscale experiences in the 7 Luxury Experiences in Kaikoura.

Location: 356 Conway Flat Road, Conway Flat, approximately 43 km (26.7 mi) from Kaikoura.

10 Best Walks & Hikes in Kaikoura© Unsplash

9. Okiwi Bay Lookout Walk (10 Minutes One Way)

On your way in or out of Kaikoura, don’t miss this short but rewarding lookout along the Okiwi Bay Lookout Walk. Starting from the Okiwi Bay Campsite, climb some 60 m (200 ft) to a picnic area which offers tremendous views across the coastline.

Nearby is also the Okiwi Bay Seaward Valley Track for a longer walk (6 hours). However, part of the track has been damaged by the 2016 earthquakes, so there’s no longer access to Half Moon Bay.

Location: Okiwi Bay Campsite, State Highway 1, approximately 30 km (18.6 mi) north of Kaikoura.

10 Best Walks & Hikes in Kaikoura© Department of Conservation

10. Patutu Route (4 h 30 mins One Way)

If you’re looking for another mountain to climb, make it Mt Patutu at an elevation of 1,162 m (3,812 ft). Although the climb generally takes 4 h 30 mins one way, allow for a full day to tackle this hike. The first 3 hours of the walk follows an old farm track, while the remaining hour is a fairly steep climb to the summit. There, bask in the amazing views of the surrounding mountains, coast and potentially all the way to the North Island.

Location: Okiwi Bay Campsite, State Highway 1, approximately 30 km (18.6 mi) north of Kaikoura.

10 Best Walks & Hikes in Kaikoura© Department of Conservation

More About Kaikoura

That’s it for our list of the best walks and hikes in Kaikoura. Get more advice on planning the ultimate trip to Kaikoura with these guides:

Finally, for more hikes to add to your bucket list, check out The Top 50 South Island Walks!


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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