The Travel Guide to Kaikoura for Families


The Family Guide to Kaikoura

Wildlife is something that never fails to impress. With Kaikoura being the mecca of marine wildlife on the South Island, the marine mammals are sure to be the main focus of your family visit to Kaikoura. From swimming with seals to watching whales, the activities in Kaikoura are not only extremely memorable but family-friendly. And it doesn’t even have to be all on the water, with sheep shearing shows and a kid-friendly museum also to enjoy. We’ll guide you through some of the top experiences, as well as comfortable accommodation for families in Kaikoura, in this complete travel guide to Kaikoura for families.

7 Things to Do in Kaikoura with Kids

  • Swim with cute fur seals in their natural environment
  • Ride the Coastal Pacific train
  • Visit the Kaikoura Museum
  • Go on a whale watching tour
  • Watch a sheep shearing show
  • Look out for seals on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
  • Play mini-golf at The Emporium

For more information on each activity, see our 7 Things to Do in Kaikoura with Kids!©

Outdoor Family Activities in Kaikoura

Most of the adventures in Kaikoura are in the great outdoors, or more specifically, out on the water. Here is some inspiration for things to do with the whole family.

It’s all about the wildlife in Kaikoura! One of the most interactive experiences is swimming with seals. Seal Swim Kaikoura offers seal swimming and viewing tours for all ages. Seals might not like to be approached on land, but 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 and shallow bay with buoyancy aids available on the tour for extra safety. See more experiences like this in the 5 Top Wildlife Activities in Kaikoura.

If you’re not too keen to get into the water, or are travelling on a budget, you can still view seals from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. While the entire walkway is 11km (7 miles) long, it’s an easy grade and suitable for all ages. Your first encounter with seals is likely to be at the Point Kean car park where seals are known to take up some of the parking spaces here. Walk a little further, and you’ll get to lookouts over various seal colonies along the way. Find out more about this walk and others in the 5 Best Walks in Kaikoura.

Of course, whale watching is one of the most popular things to do in Kaikoura, which is also great to do with kids. Join Whale Watch Kaikoura for their 3-4-hour boat tour taking you out to see the majestic sperm whales all year round. Along the way, there’s time to watch dolphins and large pelagic birds if the opportunity arises. Alternatively, whale watching can be enjoyed from above on the scenic flight with Air Kaikoura and South Pacific Helicopters.

Kiwi Rail© Kiwi Rail

Indoor Family Activities in Kaikoura

Like the rest of New Zealand, the weather in Kaikoura can be a little unpredictable. When the weather isn’t on your side, here are a few ideas for all-weather activities with kids!

Riding the train is a fun novelty experience for most kids, while mum and dad can enjoy watching the stunning coastal scenery go by! The Coastal Pacific train runs between Christchurch and Picton, stopping by Kaikoura. Onboard, view dramatic windblown seascapes on one side and towering mountains on the other through the train’s large panoramic windows or the open-air viewing carriage. There’s also an onboard cafe to enjoy a few treats with options for kids too. Note that this is a seasonal train running from spring through to autumn. Learn more about the Train Network in New Zealand.

Learn more about the iconic New Zealand 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. Between August and January, kids also get the opportunity to hold and feed one of the pet lambs.

Pixabay© Pixabay

Educational Activities for Kids

An educational activity, that you can also rely on on a rainy day, the Kaikoura Museum offers a family-friendly attraction. Learn about the natural history, Maori treasures and Kaikoura’s fishing, whaling and earthquake history in this extremely informative museum. There are exhibitions to keep the little ones interested too, such as a treasure hunt, jigsaw puzzles, drawing competitions, museum quizzes and more. Find the museum opposite the i-SITE. Affordable family passes are available.

More About Kaikoura

That’s it from the travel guide to Kaikoura for families. Discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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