Best Places to Spend Christmas: Kaikoura (New Zealand)
Positioned along a narrow plain on the shores of the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Kaikoura is one of the island nation’s top tourist destinations.
Despite its tiny permanent population of less than 2500 persons, Kaikoura’s position as a premiere tourist destination is widely acknowledged including its Green Globe tourism certification. Kaikoura made the final shortlist of top global destinations as rated by Travel and Leisure magazine.
Kaikoura is one of three destinations (the others being Waipara Valley wine region and Hanmer Springs) that form the Alpine Pacific Triangle tour circuit. The entire circuit can be covered by a 380 kilometre road trip.
Kaikoura is sandwiched by largely uninhabited open land on either direction and therefore serves as a stopover on the island’s State Highway 1 that runs through it. Just off the coast of Kaikoura is the edge of the Australian continental shelf. The deep waters are a paradise of all forms of marine life which in turn attracts substantial numbers of whales and seals.
The town sits at the base of a mountain range that rises suddenly creating steep rock cliffs in certain sections. The mountains on one side of the town and the ocean on the other makes the train ride from Christchurch through Kaikoura onto Picton, one of the most scenic in the Southern Hemisphere. Closer to Kaikoura, it is possible for train passengers to see scores of seals basking on the rocks next to the sea.