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Where Are the Best Beaches in Kaikoura?

Where Are the Best Beaches in Kaikoura?

The Southern Alps meet the sea in Kaikoura, a small tourist town in the far north of Canterbury. There are some excellent beaches in Kaikoura, including the main beach in town which is towered over by mountains.

Kaikoura Beach

Kaikoura Beach is a stone’s throw from town — and it’s a very stony beach! It’s not the most pleasant place to walk, especially on a scorching day, but the views more than make up for it!

There’s a boardwalk along some of Kaikoura Beach and if you want to see it from above, where the mountains really come into focus, head up to the Kaikoura Lookout.

READ MORE: Top 12 Beaches in the South Island

South Bay

South Bay is a couple of kilometres south of downtown Kaikoura — close to the big freedom camping area (which is a good place to get a few hours’ sleep before or after a Cook Straight ferry). It’s not quite as rocky as Kaikoura Beach (it’s still a North Canterbury Beach though!) — if you’re looking for a day out at the beach in Kaikoura this is a good option. It’s also the start (or finish) of the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway.

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

You’ll see some beaches along the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway — and they’re very scenic. It’s a really unique piece of coastline — if there’s one walk in Kaikoura you don’t want to miss it’s this one!

Hiking in Kaikoura, New Zealand


Gooches Beach / Esplanade

This beach is located along the Esplanade in Kaikoura. It’s a good area for a stroll (especially at sunrise) and there are a few hotels and motels located just across the water from the beach.

Beaches South of Kaikoura

You’ll pass by several beach areas as you drive towards Kaikoura from Christchurch. These are mostly rough and rocky stretches of beach — not hugely interesting but they’re right by the road and very easy to visit.

Beaches North of Kaikoura

I can’t find a name for the long stretch of black sand beach north of Kaikoura, but it definitely deserves one! Soft sand and a beautiful shade of blue greet visitors to this deserted coastline. There are a few places along the main road where you can access the beach, and at the northern end, The Store (Kekerengu), is a great place to stop if you’re hungry.

READ MORE: Driving From Christchurch to Picton: Best Places to Stop

Did you enjoy our post about the best beaches in Kaikoura? Check out our list of the top beaches in the South Island!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.