6 Alternative Activities in Kaikōura

From llama trekking to downhill MTB tracks, there's plenty to keep you busy in Kaikōura that doesn't involve a boat.

Man riding downhill through forest at Middle Hill MTB.

Words by: Petra Nyman 

Photography by: Nancy Zhou 

The Kaikōura region is known for its unique mountains-meet-ocean landscapes, making it the perfect place to enjoy a host of activities. 

There is plenty more to do in Kaikōura than heading off shore and sampling seafood, though we do think that’s well worthwhile. Whether you’re keen to explore the place on two wheels (riding downhill amongst some pretty special scenery), sample locally brewed beer or make some new furry friends, there are plenty of options for various activities in Kaikōura.

From hands-on immersion into local cuisine via bespoke cooking lessons, admiring a collection of classic cars, or discovering the ocean atop a paddleboard – we’ve gathered a few alternative options for you to explore. 

Owner of Hapuku Kitchen, Fiona, standing in her kitchen.

Hapuku Kitchen Cooking Class

17 Parsons Road, Hapuku

Immerse yourself in the local cuisine at Hapuku Kitchen. This is no ordinary cooking class, but a hands-on experience that will reconnect you with Kaikōura’s land and the sea. You will come away appreciating food and where it comes from in a whole different manner. Expect to find yourself either foraging for wild mushrooms, visiting nearby farms or learning to fillet a whole fish before gathering around a huge communal table to enjoy the fruits of your labour. A very unique and educational way to explore the region.

Stack of SUP boards leaning against a wall.

SUP hire from Kaikōura Surf Company

4 Beach Road

It wouldn’t be right not to include some form of sea exploration into our Kaikōura guide, so here’s an alternative way to enjoy the deep blue. Head on over to Kaikōura Surf Co. and rent a paddleboard, walk it around the corner to the beach and hop on board. This is an excellent way to explore the coastline while also getting a bit of a work out. Wayne from Kaikōura Surf Co. told us that people have had dolphins jump over their SUP’s while out on the water just out front. Now it might not happen every time, but worth a chance eh?

Bottles of Emporium Brewing beers on a shelf.

Emporium Brewing

57A Beach Road

Who doesn’t like trying a bunch of different craft beers? Local Emporium Brewery is tucked down a drive off the main road in town and well worth discovering. You can sample the latest brews, Paul, the brewer is working on, and take home a bunch of goodies to enjoy later. If you fancy a game of mini-golf or an escape room experience, these guys have got you covered on that side of things as well.

Trekking across the beach at sunset with Llamas.

Llama Trekking

16 Kowhai Ford Road, Kaikoura Flat

Bet you didn’t expect to come across these long-necked animals in Kaikōura, but at Llama Trekking you can get up close and personal with these friendly creatures. Choose from a taster trek, which will take you along to the nearby river with your own llama in tow, or a half-day (three hour) adventure, during which you’ll get a true taste of what these magnificent animals are about as you walk along the Kaikōura coast with your new furry friend. The half-day trek includes entry to the historical Fyffe house.

Man doing an air on a mountain bike at Middle Hill MTB.

Middle Hill MTB

530 Waipapa Road, Waipapa Bay

Middle Hill MTB is a must-visit destination if you’re keen for speed downhill on two wheels. This unique mountain bike park covers some 18km over multiple downhill tracks built on private property near the Clarence River. A true escape from the crowds, Middle Hill MTB takes bookings for up to 12 people at any one time (hence why it’s essential to book ahead of time). Views don’t get much better than what you get here, and the friendly pair behind this newish venture is always developing new runs for fellow mountain bikers to enjoy. Middle Hill MTB offers camping on-site by pre-arrangement as well.

Red and white classic car at Harmon's Motor Museum.

Harmon's Motor Museum

105 Beach Road

An impressive private collection of American cars from the 50s to the 70s, a visit to Harmon’s Motor Museum is a must for the car enthusiast. These stunning cars have all been self-restored by Bernie and his father, and the pair is also behind most of the street scenes. Upstairs Bernie’s Diner serves American Diner style fare, such as milkshakes, fries and burgers.