Kaikoura retains the quiet ambience of a quaint seaside village at the base of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Range. Much remains the same as it was before the dramatic earthquake of November 14, 2016.  But the landscape and seabed was altered dramatically, and it’s worth considering a two-night visit to see some of those changes. The good news is that marine life has not been affected. In fact local tourism operators report that whale, dolphin, seal and albatross viewings may be even better than before. And most of the regular walking trails are open and the town is ready to welcome visitors.

Kaikoura has a new coastline to explore. Photo Andrew Spencer Photography

Key Visitor Attractions/Activities

  • Whale watching and swimming-with-dolphins encounters
  • Awe-inspiring coastal albatross viewing
  •  Sea-kayaking to view uplifted seabed, seals in their natural environment and general ‘awe’ experiences
  •  Aerial fixed-wing flight experience seeing the natural beauty of the land, the marine life and ocean from the air
  • Great culinary/foodie experiences with focus on crayfish/lobster and seafood
  •  Lavendyl is a feast for the senses. The shop is stocked with a wide selection of food, home and body products all hand-made using our own lavender oil.

Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura. Photo Dennis Buurman

Geological Formations – Dinosaur Eggs

Spherical rocks resembling ‘dinosaur eggs’ are part of the uplifted seabed at Gooch’s Beach – rocks ‘as big as beach balls’ were found on the shoreline nine months after the 7.8-magnitude disaster.

The rocks vary in size and some of them have split through the middle.“This is another part of the newest coastline in New Zealand showing itself,” says Kyle Mulinder from Bare Kiwi. “I feel like instead of a natural disaster taking everything away, it keeps on giving little gifts. To find perfect spheres like that is very crazy”. Mulinder uploaded a video of the boulders to his Facebook page and said some commenters believed the rocks were concretions – a concretion is a compact mass of mineral matter that has become embedded in a host rock.

Quirky rock formations were exposed with the uplifted seabed. Photo Bare Kiwi

 

The Hope Springs

Another natural phenomenon following the earthquake, can be seen at Whaler’s Bay, off the Kaikoura Peninsula. A week post-quake two Kaikoura Kayak guides (Matt Foy and Conner Stapley) were out kayaking and saw some bubbling on the water surface in Whalers Bay. It looked like someone had turned on a spa pool from underneath and there was a very strong smell of sulphur.

Dr Matthew Hughes of Canterbury University says the bubbles are likely dissolved gases in the sea floor which have become exposed by new cracks in the rock around 50 metres from the shoreline, allowing carbon dioxide bubbles to rise to the surface. The bubbles are a combination of several different gases, but the strong smell likely comes from hydrogen sulphide. Dr Hughes says it is a “magical little silver lining” for the tourist town.


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