Just two hours south of the Marlborough region lies Kaikoura, a coastal town in North Canterbury. It is widely known as the place to visit for whale-watching, and although I’m sure there are land-based activities available, most people would visit for the marine experience. You can swim with dolphins and seals, or watch whales from a boat, or go fishing…whatever takes your water-loving fancy.
Be aware, however, that young children are not allowed on many of the whale watching tours; we discovered this the hard way after telling 22-month-old Tiny we were going on a boat…only to be turned away because he was too young.
No visit to Kaikoura would be complete without eating fish and chips (or crayfish, if you so desire) on the shore; choose carefully, however, as the better takeaways are found off the main drag. On our last visit, I was suffering from severe
morning all-day sickness with Pickle, and we made it to Hanmer Springs just in time for me to jettison the cod and chips we’d eaten less than an hour earlier.
Hanmer Springs is best-known for it’s thermal pools. Open all year round, there are varying temperatures to suit everyone, as well as a number of delicious spa options (I can recommend the pregnancy massage!). During the winter, the hills and pines are dusted with snow (reminiscent of European ski resorts); during the summer, the sun beats down and the temperatures can soar. If hot pools and spa treatments aren’t your thing, you can go quad or mountain biking, boating of the river, or take your little ones to Wai Ariki Farm Park.
We’ve stayed in the camping ground, which is just ten minutes from the village and a cheaper option if you plan on staying for a while. During the summer, the cabins are warm but not stuffy; however, like any camping ground, I imagine winter would be better spent in a motel or holiday home. We also rented a holiday home, of which there are many available; this is a good option if you have children as there’s generally more space to spread out than in a motel or hotel.