6 Alternative Activities in Kaikōura

Man riding downhill through forest at Middle Hill MTB.

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

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. 

Hapuku Kitchen Cooking Class

17 Parsons Road, Hapuku, Kaikōura

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.

SUP hire from Kaikōura Surf Company

4 Beach Road, Kaikōura

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?

Emporium Brewing

Bars icon

57A Beach Road, Kaikōura

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.

Llama Trekking

16 Kowhai Ford Road, Kaikoura Flat, Kaikōura

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.

Middle Hill MTB

530 Waipapa Road, Clarence, Kaikōura

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.

Harmon's Motor Museum

105 Beach Road, Kaikōura

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.

Neat Kaikōura Places

Cultural Artwork Package

Steps up to a Māori pouwhenua.
Place Kaikōura

View stunning cultural artworks that tell the rich history of Kaikōura.

Mt Fyffe Distillery

Hand holding a bottle of Shearwater Gin from Mt Fyffe Distillery, Kaikōura.
Place Kaikōura

On the foothills of Mt Fyffe, Kaikōura, you’ll stumble across one of New Zealand’s smallest nano gin distilleries, Mt Fyffe Distillery.

Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway

Sandy bay with cliffs on Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway, Kaikōura.
Place Kaikōura

The Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway has it all; the wild ocean, rugged cliff tops and mountain views capped with snow throughout winter, and an abundance of marine wildlife.

Slam Club

Customers having a beer at Slam Club, Kaikōura.
Place Kaikōura
Restaurants icon

Famous for its toasted sandwiches, Slam Club is the favourite destination for foodies passing through town.