Family-Friendly Activities in Kaikoura
Beautiful coastal and mountain scenery combined with wildlife experiences are what you can expect from a family trip to Kaikoura. Kaikoura is one of the best places on the South Island to encounter whales, seals, dolphins and some of the world’s largest seabirds. Treat you and your family to seeing some amazing creatures that we share this world with, as well as enjoy a couple of light-hearted activities, from sheep shearing to Kaikoura-themed mini-golf. Check out some of our top recommendations for things to do in Kaikoura with kids!
While you’re here, you might also be interested in The Guide to Kaikoura for Families.
1. Swim with Cute Fur Seals in Their Natural Environment
If we haven’t already made it clear, it’s all about the wildlife in Kaikoura! One of the most interactive wildlife encounters is swimming with seals. Seal Swim Kaikoura offers seal swimming and viewing tours for all ages. While seals might not like to be approached on land, they’re extremely curious and playful in the water! For the swimming encounter, it helps if your kids can swim but note that seal swimming takes place in a sheltered bay with buoyancy aids available on the tour, in case anyone in your tribe is not a strong swimmer. Find out more about Seal Swim Kaikoura on Viator and Tripadvisor. See similar experiences like this in the 5 Top Wildlife Activities in Kaikoura.
2. Ride the Coastal Pacific Train
Riding the train is a fun experience for most kids! Meanwhile, mum and dad can enjoy watching the stunning coastal scenery go by and relax with a hot coffee or New Zealand wine from the onboard licensed cafe. The Coastal Pacific train runs between Christchurch and Picton, stopping by Kaikoura along the way. Onboard, see dramatic windblown seascapes on one side and towering bush-clad mountains on the other through the train’s panoramic windows or the open-air viewing carriage. Note that this is a seasonal train that runs from spring through to autumn. Find out more about the Coastal Pacific train on Viator and Tripadvisor. Learn more about taking the train in New Zealand with our guide to the Train Network in New Zealand.
3. Visit the Kaikoura Museum
An educational activity that you can also rely on if the weather isn’t playing ball, the Kaikoura Museum offers family-friendly fun in Kaikoura town. Learn about the natural history, Maori legends and Kaikoura’s fishing, whaling and earthquake history in this informative museum. There are interactive activities to keep the little ones interested too, such as a treasure hunt, jigsaw puzzles, drawing competitions, museum quizzes and much more. Find the museum located opposite the i-SITE. Family passes are available.
4. Go on a Whale Watching Tour
Of course, whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Kaikoura. It also just happens to be a suitable thing to do in Kaikoura with kids! Join Whale Watch Kaikoura for their 3-4-hour boat tour taking you out to spot diving sperm whales all year round. Along the way, the tour will take the time to watch dolphins and large pelagic birds if the opportunity arises. Get more information about Whale Watch Kaikoura on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, whale watching can be enjoyed from the skies on the scenic flight with Wings Over Whales (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and South Pacific Helicopters (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
5. Watch a Sheep Shearing Show
Learn more about New Zealand’s most iconic farm animal: the sheep! At Point Sheep Shearing, meet the farm’s Drysdale Ram who will eat out of the palm of your hand and watch an impressive sheep shearing demonstration where the farmer will go into detail about the techniques and tools used. Between August and January, kids also get the opportunity to hold and feed one of the adorable pet lambs. This is another fantastic activity to do on a rainy day!
6. Look Out for Seals on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
If you’re not too keen to get into the water or are travelling on a budget, you can still view wildlife from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. While the entire walkway is around 11km (7 miles) long, it’s an easy grade and suitable for all ages. Encounter seals at the Point Kean car park where they are known to even take up some of the parking spaces here! Walk a little further, and you’ll get to various lookouts over seal colonies. Find out more about this walk and a few others in the 5 Best Walks in Kaikoura.
7. Play Mini-golf at The Emporium
For some healthy competition, and so mum and dad can also try out out the craft beer from the on-site brewery, head to The Emporium for their 18-hole mini-golf course. The cheap activity 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 stranded cattle from the Kaikoura earthquakes.