Adventure choices to suit the whole family
4 Day Experience

Kaikōura’s coastal waters are home to an array of marine mammals and birdlife making it the perfect destination for marine experiences all year round. Sperm Whales share this part of the ocean with dusky dolphins, fur seals and albatross amongst others. Migrating species such as the rare Hector’s dolphins, humpback whales and orca visit throughout the year.

Carry on along the Inland Road through to Mt Lyford, and enjoy skiing at Mt Lyford in winter, before carrying on to thrill seeking in Hanmer Springs. Between Hanmer Springs and Christchurch, take in the breathtaking views along the Island Hills Station Walking Track.

Day 1

Christchurch to Cheviot

A two & a half hour scenic drive from Christchurch over the Canterbury plains which begins through the breathtaking North Canterbury Wine Region. You'll pass by the surf beach in Gore Bay (worth a detour) before arriving in the friendly township of Cheviot. Cheviot is rich in history - don't miss a walk or bike ride through Cheviot Hills Domain.

"Acres of daffodils.....Cheviot Domain in Spring is unforgettable"

Transport Busing Driving
Distance 150 kms
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Adrenalin junkies

New Zealand's ultimate adventure destination! From the most extensive lift access mountain bike trails in the southern hemisphere, the longest chairlift in New Zealand, world class zip lining, epic sightseeing and a great cafe. Christchurch Adventure Park is the place for adventure.

"Had a great time doing the zip line - the two instructors were really helpful and friendly. Will definitely be doing it!"


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Highlight 2

River Ride & BBQ

There aren’t many braided rivers on our planet and the Hurunui River is one of the finest. Take the time to explore it. There are no better guides than the Loughnan family. Their business, Energy Jet, is the only jet boat operator in this unique environment. They’ll tailor trips for you – whether you want a jet boat ride that will blow the hair off your face and have your adrenaline pumping or a scenic tour of the river that will take you right down to the coastline.

They can also pack you a BBQ featuring delicious, fresh locally-produced produce and take you to the most beautiful spot to enjoy it.

 “I’ve never seen nature like this.”


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Highlight 3

Surfing at Gore Bay

Gore Bay is a coastal settlement near Cheviot, New Zealand.

Holiday homes dot the surrounding hills, almost standing guard over the beach. It’s a surfer’s paradise, popular for fishing and walking with the reef and rock pools well worth exploring. Don't miss the Cathedral Cliffs - they're a hidden gem that will have you marvelling at nature's ability to create an interesting spectacle.

“My favourite place. Surfing, fishing walks, shell collecting. Chilled out summer evenings, beautiful clear night skies. Kiwi living at its best.”

“The smoothest stones I've ever walked on … a little piece of paradise hidden off the beaten track.”

"A family favourite. Beachcombing, spotting wildlife and relaxing."

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Day 2

Cheviot to Kaikōura

This short journey will take you just over an hour, but will leave memories that will last a lifetime. Head north from Cheviot on State Highway One and wind your way through spectacular countryside to the Hundalee Hills.

Further on you will hit the coast and drive right alongside the beautiful Pacific Ocean spotting seals, birds and other marine life before arriving in the seaside settlement of Kaikōura. Once in Kaikōura make your way to the lookout to enjoy majestic views of this pretty village, the mountains and the ocean.

Make the most of all the eco-tourism and marine life that Kaikōura has to offer. 

"Visit OUR locals"

Transport Busing Driving
Distance 68 kms
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Kaikōura Kayaks

Catch up with the local fur seals, blue penguins and dusky dolphins as they duck and dive around the scenic Kaikōura coastline. 

Kaikōura Kayaks offers guided seal kayaking, family kayaking and sunset kayak tours. You can also hire stand up paddleboards or sit on top kayaks. The qualified instructors are trained professionals who will guide you on safety procedures and paddling techniques to keep you safe and dry.

“Our family had never kayaked before – we loved it! And saw animals we’d never have got close to from the shore.”




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Highlight 2

Swimming with Dolphin Encounter

Kaikōura’s dusky dolphins are regarded as the most interactive and acrobatic of all dolphin species.

Encounter Kaikōura can take you swimming with them or, if you’d rather, you can stay dry and watch from the boat. These tours are highly sought after so do try to book in advance.  And, check out the chance to get up close and personal with albatross too.

“Swimming with 200 wild dolphins! Sublime, thrilling, unreal … one of the most magical experiences of our lives.”


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Day 3

Kaikōura to Hanmer Springs

There are a number of ways to get to Hanmer Springs from Kaikōura.

The most scenic route is via the Inland Road which takes you past the entrance to the ski village of Mount Lyford, or you can travel a bit further south and take the Leader Road.

The Leader Road incorporates coastal and rural farming views and finishes at the Waiau township. On both routes there are plenty of opportunities for avid photographers.


Transport Driving
Distance 130 kms
Highlight 3

Whale Watch Kaikōura

Whale Watch Kaikōura is New Zealand's only whale watching company with boats that operate all year round.

They offer visitors an exciting up-close encounter with giant sperm whales, who share their unique world with a host of other whale and dolphin species, seals and albatross – all of which are regularly spotted during Whale Watch tours. 

A 95% success rate means a guaranteed 80% refund if the tour does not see a whale.

"No photos in the world can capture the feeling of seeing these wonderful animals live."


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Highlight 2

South Pacific Helicopters

South Pacific Helicopters offers whale watching flights out to see the incredible sperm whales and other migratory whales in the Kaikōura area. We also offer scenic flights and bespoke experiences including picnics in the mountains, heli-rafting, and so much more! 

Kaikōura Ultimate Adventure is an incredible experience, and one of our most popular tours capturing the best of Kaikōura. See the mighty sperm whale and playful dusky dolphins, as well as magnificent vistas of coastal shores, picturesque landscapes, and majestic mountain ranges in a way only a helicopter can.

 "Ultimate Adventure was GREAT...need more stars!! Saw our first sperm whale!"

"Definitely the highlight of the New Zealand trip!"


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Highlight 3

Thrilling Adventures

Hanmer Springs Attractions offers the outdoor adventure activities that New Zealand is famous for. 

Jet boating, bungy jumping, river rafting, quad biking, canoeing and claybird shooting are just some of the activities they offer.

If you want to spin 360 degrees on a speeding jet boat, free fall 35 metres on a bungy cord or plough through streams on a quad bike, this is the team who can make it happen (and safely!).

“Wow. Just wow. I want to be a jetboat driver now.”

“I can’t believe I just did that!”


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Highlight 4

Mt Lyford Ski Field and Lake Stella Mountain Retreat

This is an experience like no other. Accommodation includes four 10-square-metre huts, fitted with everything you need and nothing you don't: a queen-sized bed, wood-burning fire and towels to dry off after a soak in the tub, with access to shared kitchen and bathroom facilities in the nearby chalet.

In winter you have access to your own hiking basin as well as access to the Mt Lyford Ski Resort. In summer, enjoy exclusive access to three mountains to climb, hike and mountain bike. 

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Day 4

Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

The adventure doesn't stop on the drive back to Christchurch. The drive consists of ever changing scenery, and is best enjoyed by visiting the small towns. Pay a visit to the North Canterbury Wine Region for delicious wine and food, and make sure you call into Amberley for some retail therapy. 

Or, if you're still chasing adventure and have time on your hands, check out Island Hills Station Walking Track, a self-guided private walkway with amazing scenery around every corner. 

Transport Busing Driving
Distance 135 kms
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Island Hills Station Walking Track

Only 20 minutes inland from the historic Hurunui Hotel on the way to and from Hanmer Springs, the new and improved Island Hills Station Track is an experience like no other. Choose between 3 day or 2 day options.

This is a self-guided private walkway which is very well marked and easy to follow. The lodge style accommodation facilities are very unique, with fully serviced kitchen, BBQ and dining facilities, bunk beds and plenty of privacy. The luxury of hot showers, super comfortable beds, pillows, and pack transport each day makes for a stress free adventure.

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Map Summary

Other Points of Interest

Hanmer Trails

Hanmer Springs is synonymous with fantastic single-track mountain bike riding.

The tracks accommodate the novice rider with flat rides through the Heritage Forest and offer more advanced riding north of Jollies Pass Road. For the more adventurous, there are backcountry roads and trails in St James Conservation Area and the infamous Jacks Jollies Loop.

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Hanmer Springs Adventure

The most fun you can have on four wheels.

Jump on a quad bike and explore the purpose-built track through meadows, streams and bush on our 15,000 acre Woodbank Station property. 

Get ready for the adrenaline-pumping thrill of a real quad bike adventure, with river crossings, hill climbs, humps and bumps, all set in the magnificent scenery of the Hanmer Basin. Ride the Honda Sport Quad Bike through our working farm, complete with sheep and cattle!

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Mt Fyffe Walk

On a clear day the views at higher levels include Banks Peninsula and the North Island. From Mt Fyffe carpark, walk up the 4WD road on the mountain's long south-west ridge. The road goes right to the summit; a return journey of about 8 hours.

Those with less time or energy could go as far as Mt Fyffe Hut (5 hours return) or to the lookout point which is just an hour above the carpark.

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Conical Hill

Conical Hill & Hanmer Heritage Forest are great places to explore, with a range of walking, mountain biking and horse riding tracks. 

The Heritage Forest is protected under a Crown covenant to preserve its character, the forest contains a striking mix of native and exotic plant life and the oldest part of the forest contains plants more than 100 years old.

Conical Hill is a 30 minute walk up a zig-zagging track to reach a lookout with sensational, 360-degree views.



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Wings Over Whales

Wings Over Whales offers incredible scenic whale watching flights out to view the resident sperm whales and other wildlife in Kaikōura, all with the gorgeous backdrop of the Kaikōura Peninsula and Seaward Mountain Ranges. This trip is perfect for families with young children as there is no minimum age limit, as well as for anyone wanting to experience the wildlife from a whole new perspective. Enjoy stunning views of the whales and wildlife, from head to tail! 




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A Day with the Whales

Posted on 5 years ago by Whale Watch

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When Is The Best Time To Go Whale Watching?

Posted on 5 years ago by Whale Watch

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