Kaikoura: ISV New Zealand’s Newest Tour Destination

by isvolunteers on Monday, 17 November 2014


Dusky dolphins (c) Whale Watch Kaikoura

Located on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Kaikoura is a new destination on the 2015 ISV New Zealand Adventure Tour.

Here’s three reasons that we’ve decided to include Kaikoura on the two week tour:

  1. Awesome marine ecology with one of the best locations for whale watching in the world
  2. The whole community’s commitment to sustainability, and
  3. Kaikoura’s cultural value and rich Maori heritage

Whale watching

Kaikoura is famous for the abundance of marine life that frequent the Hikurangi Trench that runs just off the coastline of Kaikoura. At depths of up to 3,750m (12,300ft) it is a popular place for adolescent male Sperm Whales who enjoy the rich diet of the Kaikoura waters while building up their strength to move to the mating grounds of the warm north. ISV New Zealand participants will head out on a marine discovery and whale watching cruise (an ISV Included Activity), with award-winning Whale Watch Kaikoura.  In addition to Sperm Whales there is also a chance to see Humpback and Southern Right Whales as well as Dusky (pods of up to 300 at a time) and Bottlenose dolphins and if you are lucky the incredibly rare and endemic Hectors Dolphin. There are also many bird species including the Wandering and Royal Albatross that have up to 4m (13ft) wingspans!

Tail of a Sperm Whale (c) Whale Watch Kaikoura

Tail of a Sperm Whale (c) Whale Watch Kaikoura

Commitment to sustainability

In the 1990’s the Kaikoura District Council and the community realised that the growth in visitor numbers was beginning to have effects on the natural environment and the local infrastructure. Together they decided to adopt a sustainable approach to growth in the district. Kaikoura is the first community in New Zealand and second in the world to achieve Environmental Benchmark status in 2002 and certification status in 2004 through the Green Globe Environmental Certification scheme. Green Globe, now Earthcheck, is the world’s only truly global tourism certification standard and arose from the principles of Agenda 21 (the United Nations action for sustainable development).

crayfish shack

Kai means food and Koura, crayfish

Maori culture

Kaikoura has a rich history and culture. Maori heritage is reflected in the name, Kaikoura. Tama ki Te Rangi arrived in the area many hundreds of years ago and was tired and hungry. He found an abundance of crayfish and named the area “Te Ahi Kaikoura a Tama ki Te Rangi” – the fire that cooked the crayfish of Tama ki Te Rangi.

Kai means food and Koura, crayfish. During your free time in Kaikoura you can sample some of the incredible seafood available here at one of the many seafood “shacks” dotted around Kaikoura. Kaikoura has also inspired many New Zealand artists including the popular song by New Zealand dub and reggae group Fat Freddy’s Drop called Cay’s Crays (listen here).

new zealand fur seal

Walk around the Kaikoura peninsula and it’s rare not to encounter a NZ fur seal (c) Whale Watch Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a stunning destination that fits in perfectly with ISV’s responsible travel ethics. Are you going to NZ with ISV this summer? If so, you’re going to love Kaikoura.

To learn more about ISV and our programs please visit our website.



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