From sunrise to sunset New Zealand’s Kiakoura coast is nothing short of spectacular. Kiakoura was named by the native Maori for it’s plentiful crayfish population and is known for having a vibrant ocean life. Nestled between the rugged Kiakoura Range and the Pacific Ocean you’ll find a vibrant mix of modern Kiwi and native Maori culture making Kiakoura a must see on your New Zealand travels list.
Crisp, cold water envelopes the wet suit hugging my body as I submerge myself in the depths of Kiakoura’s South Bay. Within minutes of plunging to the ocean floor a magenta starfish grabs my attention followed by a gang of rock lobster around the next corner, and soon I’m swallowed by a school of friendly fishies!
The local dive shop makes free diving easy – you can rent all your gear for a total of NZD$50 (USD$34.84) for 24 hours. A full wet suit is recommended for braving the cold water with average temperature at about 16 degree Celsius (60 degree Fahrenheit ). For those with their open water dive certifications you can also book guided tours at the same place, or obtain your cert. Keep your eye out for playful seals and sting rays!
Tip: Kiakoura’s South Bay boast’s one of the best East Coast sunsets on the South Island.
Guided Ocean Swims
For those not experienced with diving one can also book a dolphin or seal swim in the animals natural environment, none of the animals are captive making for sustainable tourism. A major part of New Zealand culture is the importance placed on environmental preservation by the locals.
The beaches of Kiakoura are known around New Zealand for the zealous waves and surf culture. Hapuku beach about 15 minutes North of the city center is recommended.
Tip: for an unforgettable sunrise make your way to the campsite on Hapuku Kiwa Road and don’t forget to set your alarm.
If getting in the water seems a bit too brisk there are plenty of activities on dry land, or by boat!
Kiakoura Peninsula Walk to seal colony goes from town center to Point Keen and close by are the rock platforms fur seals have made their home, among a plethora of other walking trails in the area. You can also access the seal colony from South Bay’s board walk.
*Please be respectful to all wild life you encounter along the way. This is their home and we are just guests.
The lavender farm is highly rated, but make sure to go early summer or late fall to catch it in full bloom!
For a fesh view on Kiakoura ocean life you can also book a boat or helicopter tour for whale watching.
Cooper’s Catch is a well known, hole-in-the-wall must. Not only is their seafood fresh daily but they’ll also clean and cook your days catch for a small fee.
Kiakoura Bakery which has carnivorous, vegetarian and vegan pies among all the sweet treats one can imagine!
Bean Me Up Coffee Cart for New Zealand’s cheapest coffee accompanied by a scone.