Kaikoura is known for its marine wildlife. It IS amazing. The most common mammal is the pretty fur seal. Who can resist a little fur seal pup? The fur seals found there are the kekeno or NZ fur seals.
Be aware that you’re to give 10 meters from any fur seal, especially when they’re sleeping. We were told that they may wake up frightened (by a bad dream, a noise, or whatever) and attack whoever’s closer. Do be careful with children – make sure they don’t touch or step on one of the fur seals.
They’re literally EVERYWHERE. Wherever there’s a beach, there are fur seals.
However, there are 2 places I’d like to introduce here:
- Point Kean – there’s a colony there. A HUGE one. If you go up to Whalers Bay, you’ll be able to see hundreds of fur seals resting on the rocks (from above, like on the photo with Joao in the red sweater). You can hear them and you can see some of them moving. But if you’re not interested in quantity, or looking from far away, you can just stay on the carpark. Yep. The car park. So. Many. Fur. Seals. We were there in winter, so we had the chance to see pups play around the carpark. Super scary, because they’re fearless and it’s a carpark, after all. The adults are usually sleeping, and they sleep everywhere. Heavily. And they snore. Awesome. What I loved most about this place is that they’re everywhere and anywhere. You could (but shouldn’t) touch them if you really wanted. My kids loved it. We could stay there for hours, in the freezing cold, watching them swim, play and sleep.
- Ohau Stream – another great place. We didn’t really know if we were going because after watching the fur seals for a whole week, they aren’t as fun anymore. I’m just so glad we did. Just imagine 50 pups playing in the water and 20 humans watching them, in awe, with no barrier separating them. That’s the place. How can pups be so darn adorable? They’re a whole new thing to watch. And a bunch of them together, in one place, is just a whole other thing. MUST DO. It’s 5 minutes walk from the car park to the waterfall, where they play, but we saw SO MANY of them on the way, playing on the stream, on the rocks, between the trees and everywhere. They’re super curious and they do come close to you, but they also bite, so just be aware of their behavior and watch your step as they fall asleep everywhere. We saw the first pups playing in the stream on the first 3 steps. Really adorable.
* Unfortunately, Ohau Stream Track is now closed due to the eartquake. It’s a shame, but it’s life. They must have a new spot to play in, so when I found something out, I’ll update this post.
There are a few things to consider:
- Drive extra carefully because the fur seals (especially the pups) run to the middle of the road. We saw many car-hit fur seals while driving from Golden Bay to Kaikoura. Too sad.
- Do NOT touch them – you can give them illnesses, you can scare them, or you can get bitten.
- Do NOT get too close to a sleeping fur seal, because they might wake up startled and attack.
- NEVER feed them. Ever.
- Do watch them, they are super fun to see: they’re awesome climbers and swimmers, but they’re adorably clumsy on land.
- Be respectful.
- Know that even though they’re cute, they are wild animals and not next door’s dog.
- Keep an eye on your kids. I saw kids nearly hugging a pup and the fur seal mom coming toward them. Jose was filming a seal out on the rocks and nearly stepped on a sleeping one. Watch your kids.
There aren’t many places in the world where you can get this close to wild animals like you can in Kaikoura. Let’s try to be respectful enough to keep it that way for the future generations.
I must say Joao left Kaikoura happy and satisfied of the encounters he had. Coral didn’t want to leave Ohau Stream. Melissa loved them, she was happy taking tons of photos. Jose also loved them, but he loved the pups most.
We all loved it.
Do you know of a place where we can encounter wild animals like this? Let us know in the comments!