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It’s time to GO Play in Kaikoura this summer


Image looking down onto the Kaikoura coastline where it is possible to swim with dolphins

Kaikoura did not have the best year in 2017. Hit by an earthquake in late 2016, the town was cut off for much of the summer season in 2017 and access to Kaikoura, both from Christchurch in the south and Nelson to the north has only just fully reopened, just in time for the summer season!

Now it’s the time to add Kaikoura back into your travel plans. It’s such a cool place to visit with lots of things to do. As we reported back in November, the town is not only back open for business, it’s thriving! In true Kiwi style, Kaikoura has made the best of the bad hand that was dealt to them when the magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck.

Local businesses have got stuck in, rebuilding and adapting and the majority of businesses are back open for businesses and ready to welcome visitors to the town this summer. Not only are the old businesses back open, but new opportunities have also sprung up in the town including:

  • Uplifted seabed creates new geology, science and education tourism
  • New shared cycleway/walkway between Okiwi Bay and Mangamaunu
  • Applying for UNESCO world heritage status
  • Investigate becoming a World Geopark
  • Explore development of another DoC Great Walk between Kaikoura-Molesworth Station-Hanmer Springs

Explore Kaikoura and save money with GO Rentals

Now that the town is back open for business, they need your support! Kaikoura has always been a hot spot destination for visitors thanks to the diverse range of activities, most notably the amazing marine life which is accessible from Kaikoura. Now is the time to show your support for the town and make sure you include a visit on your New Zealand road trip.

When you rent a car with GO Rentals, you also get access to our exclusive GO Play card which will save you heaps of money on over 170 activities and attractions throughout New Zealand. We’re very pleased to say that we have six GO Play partners located in Kaikoura so there’s plenty of opportunities to save on some of the awesome activities in the town – that way you can put those savings to good use and support some of the other businesses in town…like the ice cream shop!

Things to do in Kaikoura

If you are planning a trip to Kaikoura, here are some of the amazing activities you can get involved in, all of which are part of our amazing GO Play programme:

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura


Encounter the world’s largest toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale. Watching these beautiful creatures in their natural environment is available all year round.

GO Play discount: 5%

Dolphin Encounter

Encounter Kaikoura


This is one of the most popular reasons for a visit to Kaikoura. Get involved with this exhilarating experience of swimming or watching wild dusky dolphins in their natural environment.

GO Play discount: $10 off

Albatross Encounter

Albatross Encounter Kaikoura


As well as the awesome marine life that is accessible off the coast of Kaikoura, there’s also some pretty incredible birdlife. Experience the epic diversity of albatross species and numerous other pelagic birds.

GO Play discount: $10 off

Kaikoura Kayaks

Image of two kayakers with the dolphins in the waters around Kaikoura

Watch NZ fur seals dive around and under your kayak. Exploring the waters by kayak is so peaceful and as well as the chance to get up close and personal with the fur seal, there are also chance encounters with dolphins and blue penguins.

GO Play discount: 10%

Seal Swim

Seal Swim Kaikoura


If you want to take things one step further and get into the water with the fur seals, Seal Swim Kaikoura can hook you up. Swim with NZ Fur seals in the shallow waters of the beautiful Kaikoura Peninsula.

GO Play discount: 10%

Bella Vista Kaikoura

After all that excitement either out on the water or on land, it’s nice to not have to rush off on the next leg of your trip. The Bella Vista Motel Chain is part of the GO Play programme so you can stay the night in Kaikoura and save even more money on your trip. Boom!

GO Play discount: 10%

Getting to Kaikoura

Whilst SH1 is now open both from the north and the south, there are still a lot of roadworks taking place in order to fully rebuild the highway. If you are planning on taking this route, either after catching the ferry across from Wellington to Picton or heading north up from Christchurch, please allow for extra time in your journey.

It is expected that SH1 will be busy through the peak summer season and New Zealand Transport estimate that the drive time from Christchurch to Picton will be around 5.5 hours using SH1.

The alternative route via the Lewis Pass is still a good option for travellers looking for a different experience. We recommend making a stop off in Kaikoura to experience the wonderful attractions there before heading inland and taking state highways 63, 6, 65 and 7 through the Lewis Pass. You can find out more about this alternative route on our blog. This route is still expected to take around 6.5 hours from Christchurch to Picton and allow more time for the detour to Kaikoura.

Drive safely

For all those travelling via SH1, we do urge absolute caution. Our customers’ safety is our primary focus here at GO so we ask that you pay close attention to all speed limits, warning signs and the workforce who will be working to bring SH1 back to full use. There will be lots of speed restrictions in place and it is important to stick to these – they are there for a reason and that reason is your safety. Allow extra time to get to your destinations and enjoy the journey rather than thinking about simply getting from A to B.

Trip Planning

We have lots of awesome road trip itineraries that pass through Kaikoura, whether you are on a short weekend break or an epic New Zealand adventure. Make sure you check out our itineraries as well as our Complete Guides when planning your New Zealand road trip.

For all the latest news and to plan your journey between Picton and Christchurch, keep an eye on the official New Zealand Transport website:

GO Play activities in this area

  • 10% Off

    Dophin Swim Cruises

    Kaikoura is a picturesque place, famous for the spectacular marine life that inhabits the coastline including whales, dolphins, albatross, penguins, fur seals and orca. Dolphin Encounter specialises in providing an exhilarating experience of swimming or watching wild dusky dolphins in their natural environment.

    96 Esplanade, Kaikoura. Tel : 03 319 6777

  • 10% Off

    Albatross Cruise

    Albatross Encounter brings you up close to a diverse array of seabirds including albatross, petrels, shearwaters, shags, terns and gulls. Kaikoura’s marine environment is home to more seabird species than anywhere else in the New Zealand.

    96 Esplanade, Kaikoura. Tel : 03 319 6777