Kai Iwi Lakes
NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group
Kaikōura Peninsula, like a whale tail peeking from the ocean, is a walker’s paradise. Mountains, rugged bays, slumbering seals and that quintessential ocean mist — this place has it all. The grassy outcrop has long served as a lifeblood for Kaikōura’s economy. Legend has it that Māui steadied himself on the peninsula while he fished the North Island from the sea. At least 14 pā sites are scattered across the land, which generations of Māori used for shelter and as a natural look-out point. In the 1850s, whalers used its rocky perimeter as a natural butcher’s block. When the southern right whale was hunted to near extinction, the peninsula’s plateau was converted to cattle and sheep farms. Fast forward a few hundred years and the peninsula still nourishes the region, though perhaps in a less literal sense. The easy track that twists and turns along the clifftops, provides views of a sprawling seal colony and rugged mountains-to-sea landscape. It’s not difficult to spot a seal — the truth is, these tubby little guys are to be found snoozing just about everywhere. Keep an eye out on the water for an appearance by other residents, such as dusky dolphins, little blue penguins and even whales. While the loop takes at least three hours (round trip) to complete, trampers can shorten their route by turning around and backtracking to their starting point. Begin the walk from either the city centre, South Bay car park or Point Kean car park. If starting in the city centre, follow the footpath and road verge along the Esplanade. The track is well marked and will pass Fyffe House, Point Kean car park and South Bay before looping back to the town centre.