Kaikoura has a lot to offer a person travelling through it, especially when it comes to nature. I have come here several times now, and each time doesn't lessen the awe at the Kaikoura range in the background from the beach.
The main thing that Kaikoura is famous for is probably whale watching (which I still haven't done), but it has a lot of other things as well. Randomly enough you can do llama trekking and visit a variety of mini zoos in the Kaikoura flats if you fell the urge. But if you dont fell like paying to see some animals, along the coastal route leading and from Kaikoura (both ways) there are a number great places to stop and see seals. However, do not feed, or get to close as they do bite! There is also a large number of different birds from oyster cathchers to standard gulls.
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If you have the time and energy and skills, there are some tramps that are possible. As yet I haven't experienced them.
One key thing to note for this area is you must fill up before you head on your way there, either in Blenheim or somewhere north of Christchurch, as there are no other gas stations until you get to Kaikoura.