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Kaikoura, New Zealand

New Zealand's East Coast

Kaikoura, Christchurch & Akaroa

Things to do on New Zealand's East Coast


New Zealand's east coast is centred on two main areas – the whale watching town of Kaikoura and, to the south, Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula. In between are attractive country towns and hot-spring spas, as well as mountains and rivers that provide an often-breathtaking backdrop for a range of outdoor pursuits. This stretch of coastline is also well suited to a self-drive, with easy-to-navigate roads following the coast all the way from north to south. And, if you feel like catching the train instead, the Coastal Pacific railway provides a scenic alternative.

Spot whales and dolphins in Kaikoura

The coastal town of Kaikoura is is one of the best places in the world for watching whales and dolphins. Sightings vary, but close encounters with giant sperm whales can be enjoyed year-round. Migratory humpbacks, pilot whales and orcas can also be seen depending on the season. Other species to watch out for include Hector's dolphins and vast pods of their bottlenose cousins, sometimes thousands strong. It's all set to a backdrop of snow-dusted coastal mountains, creating a truly special setting. 

Breaching humpback whale, Kaikoura

Discover historic Christchurch

The 'Garden City' of Christchurch is the second largest city in New Zealand and the gateway to the Canterbury region. It has long been regarded as the country's most 'English' city, mostly due to its neo-Gothic architecture and the winding River Avon, complete with punting students and weeping willows. When an earthquake struck the city in 2011, several buildings were destroyed. But now, after an extensive rebuilding project, the city is back to its vibrant best. 

Downtown Christchurch

Relax on the coast in Akaroa

The sleepy settlement of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula is around an hour's drive from Christchurch along the scenic Summit Road. It's something of local's secret, drawing far more locals than overseas tourists, but it's well worth a detour. Expect fine food, some wonderful walks, pretty gardens and craft shops, all set in a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. There are some interesting wildlife-viewing possibilities in the region, too, from catching sight of fur seals to swimming with dolphins.

Akaroa, New Zealand


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Special offers in New Zealand's East Coast

Self Drive, Mt Cook, New Zealand

New Zealand Wonderland with APT

20-day escorted tour from £6,955 pp incl. flights


Early booking savings – Save up to £400pp
Book by: 15 December 2023

Discover the best New Zealand has to offer on this comprehensive and popular and fully-guided tour with APT Touring.

Top itineraries in New Zealand's East Coast

Queenstown, New Zealand

Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,820 pp incl. flights

With boutique hotel stays and car hire included throughout, this curated road trip perfectly showcases the unique cultures and natural wonders of New Zealand's North and South islands.

Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Best of New Zealand's South Island

13-day tailor-made self-drive & rail journey from £3,965 pp incl. flights

Discover New Zealand's South Island in depth road trip, bringing it all to life with an included glacier heli-hike, an overnight Doubtful Sound cruise and a journey on the iconic TranzAlpine train.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Cultural Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £5,685 pp incl. flights

A tip-to-toe tour of New Zealand, taking in the best of its landscapes and culture, and calling into filming locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Port Douglas beach, Queensland, Australia

Australia and New Zealand Discoverer

21-day tailor-made holiday from £5,160 pp incl. flights

This tailor-made holiday combines the best that Australia and New Zealand have to offer. You'll explore New Zealand's world-famous glaciers and remote fjords with a self-drive before discovering Australia's sacred Ayers Rock, stunning beaches and delightful waterside cities.

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Top places to stay in New Zealand's East Coast

Gardens at Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch

Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch

Small & intimate lodge

Built in 1895 for Sir Heaton Rhodes, Otahuna Lodge is a stylish and elegant Victorian mansion set with beautiful manicured gardens on the outskirts of Christchurch on New Zealand's stunning South Island.

Annandale, Akaroa

Annandale, Akaroa


This ultra luxurious lodge sets the highest possible standards and in service, facilities, location and cuisine; four individual villas located on a working farm in a remote region of coastal beauty around an hours’ drive from Christchurch.

The George executive room, New Zealand

The George, Christchurch

Small & intimate hotel

This member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World is best known for its innovative dining experiences and contemporary style.

The Classic Villa double room, New Zealand

The Classic Villa, Christchurch

Small & intimate b&b

This is a New Zealand welcome complemented by city-centre Italian style that dates back to the turn of the century.

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When to go to New Zealand's East Coast

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Meet our New Zealand's East Coast experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0614

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0614 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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Every step of the way

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