Hiking the Fyffe-Palmer Track, Kaikoura

Kaikoura is famous for being a place where “the mountains meet the sea”, but in all my (quick) trips to Kaikoura I’d only ever set foot on (or very near) the coast. On my most recent trip to Kaikoura I decided to head into the hills to see some of the inland attractions. It turned out heaps of the hiking tracks around Kaikoura are still closed due to the 2017 earthquake. I eventually settled on the Fyffe-Palmer Track, at the base of Mount Fyfe. It’s not the most exciting track in the world but it was a fun short walk, mostly due to the awesome dog who guided me whole way.

Starting the Fyffe-Palmer Track

As soon as I pulled up at the car park at the end of Mount Fyffe Road a big brown dog came bounding along to meet me. For a moment I thought he was going to attack me, but then he ran over to the start of the track and starting barking at me. I followed, and along we went. Me climbing traversing wooden steps over fences and him squeezing between the wires. The first part of the track heads up a grassy hill and there are some great views back over farmland towards the Kaikoura coast. From there the track heads into the forest and doesn’t really leave – you’ll only get one or two more open views along the rest of the track.

Great view over Kaikoura, New Zealand from the Fyffe-Palmer TrackA cute dog on the Fyffe-Palmer Track, Kaikoura, New Zealand

A small waterfall

With an adorable dog guiding the way, I headed up through the forest. We soon stumbled on a small waterfall. I stopped to take a few photos and the dog disappeared – I walked a few metres more and realised he had got into the water and was just chilling out in front of the waterfall. It looked like he wanted me to join him, but it was way too cold!

A small waterfall on the Fyffe-Palmer Track, Kaikoura, New Zealand

More Forest

Once you get to the top of the hill (before the waterfall) you’ll reach a fork in the road. It’s a loop track so it doesn’t really matter which way you go — we went left as the dog seemed to favour that side. The waterfall (and the general forest atmosphere) is the highlight but there’s also another small waterfall next to a bridge which is cool to see. Like I said, there aren’t many views, but you will get an opening or two (it’s kind the same view from before though). The Fyffe-Palmer track apparently takes an hour and 45 minutes to complete but I did it in about an hour (the dog set a quick a pace). It’s pretty easy and the track is in good condition.

A view from the Fyffe-Palmer Track, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Getting to the Fyffe-Palmer Track

From Kaikoura head all the way down Mount Fyffe Road. You’ll see a small car park (and hopefully a dog looking for a hiking buddy). It only takes around 10 minutes to drive there from town. It’s not the “Mount Fyffe car park”, which is a lot further away –  I guess I made that mistake so you don’t have to (it was a rough road too).

READ MORE: Hiking the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Are you planning a trip to Kaikoura? Let me know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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