Kaikoura, New Zealand Day Trip From Christchurch

Kaikoura Ranges

Today I am winding the clock back a little to my trip to New Zealand in 2015. It was one of the first days I was in Christchurch. Some friends were taking a day to drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura and asked if I would be interested in joining them. Needless to say, I did not need them to offer twice and below is some of the stunning locations we visited along the way.

Christchurch To Kaikoura

The distance between Christchurch and Kaikoura is around 180km. If you are driving straight through it takes around 2.5 hours. However, today we were looking to visit some Geocaches along the way. While also stopping at numerous scenic locations for some photography as well.

For the majority of the drive, we followed the SH 1 highway north from Christchurch. I believe the primary detour we took from this route was around Domett, to pass through Port Robinson and Gore Bay.

From the point of view of a photographer, I could have easily spent a week exploring this route. However, today we had just the one day to get there and back. But this did not stop us from seeing a lot of what the area has to offer.

St Paul’s Church

The first stop we made was near to a church by the name of St Paul’s. It was a stop for a geocache, but I took a look around the church as well. It seems that even though it is still standing to some degree, this is the result of being held up by supports. The church was quite badly damaged by the devastating 2011 Earthquake near to Christchurch.

St Pauls Church

Cathedral Gully

Cathedral Gully is what is commonly referred to as a badlands. A badlands is a type of dry terrain where sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soil have been severely eroded, by wind and water. The area is a natural badlands, while it is also possible for man-made badlands to exist. With the name coming from the resemblance of the area to the spires of a cathedral. Also, you will notice in the background of this photo the area known as Gore Bay.

Cathedral Gully

Gore Bay

Gore Bay is a very open bay that is formed just north of Port Robinson. The bay itself is a mixture of sheer cliff faces and beaches covered in pebbles. The photo below shows the view to the south from a picnic area at the first point where the road is almost at sea level.

Gore Bay

Local Wildlife

There was one point along the drive that we noticed some of the local wildlife. The seals seemed happy enough to pose for a photo, but soon got bored and moved along.

Seal on rocks
At another stop, we noticed this seagull that has quite a spectacular view to go with its nest. So, of course, this photo also does show some of the stunning landscape along the coastline here.

Seagull Nesting


Once we arrived in Kaikoura, it was hard to pay attention to the town, when you see the surrounding countryside. The mountain range that still has snowcapped peaks is the Kaikoura Ranges. Well, it is only one of the ranges, as the Kaikoura Ranges are made up of two parallel ranges.

Kaikoura Ranges

The below photo was captured from almost the same spot as the one above. However, this picture looking to the south is the peninsula which forms a part of Kaikoura.

Kaikoura Peninsula
The eastern end of the peninsula is made up of some large flat stone areas that extend out into the ocean. Depending on the tide these can be covered or exposed by the water. They are the result of the water eroding away the sediment that has previously been deposited on the ocean floor many millions of years ago.

Kaikoura Uplifted Sediments

Great Day Out

With the expected five hours drive time combined with the number of stops we made it was an all day outing. I think at a guess we probably were out and about for over 12 hours. But it was very much a great day exploring some beautiful countryside. At some point in the future, I would love to explore the area a little deeper, especially to do a little hiking where it is possible. But also just to stay in some of the smaller towns like Kaikoura and enjoy the different feeling to a big city.

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