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Kaikoura Cracker, Canterbury

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Kaikoura CrackerIntermediate

Submitted by Mike Steel

Info Info
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Trail Information







Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush
Plantation/exotic forest
Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands
Open ridges/tops


1:30 (Slow)
1:00 (Moderate)
0:45 (Fast)



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This short run packs some punchy scenery: seals, seagulls, surf, a short tunnel, an optional cave, a climb onto a `whales back, and panoramic views of mountains and ocean. Best at low tide. Starts and ends at the Kaikoura peninsula car park, but it may be wise to warm up by starting further back at Jimmy Armers swimming beach, or the Pier Hotel, thereby allowing a cool-off swim or liquid refreshment on your return.From the car park drop down onto the rocks and start a joyous romp around the coast line picking up faint trails past the raucous seabird colony, before passing between the rhino horns (youll recognise that when you see it) then on to run up the steep western edge of whales back small outcrop hill, for outstanding views on the narrow top -- running back down is a nice test of balance!

Carry on south on the more remote section towards aptly named sharks tooth which is the far south point on the peninsula. En route youll pass a cave (hidden in bush against a rock wall hard to locate) and pass by another excellent airy viewpoint (10 metres east up from a low saddle well worth the detour). You can also pass through a small tunnel (watch for seals!). As you get closer to sharks tooth theres likely to be more seals be careful you may run past them before they notice you, but if not, treat them with care and respect (i.e. be prepared to stop and walk gently around them).

Rounding sharks tooth head directly around to South Bay on a wide easily runable rock shelf. This brings you to the start of the official walkway, which starts with an elevated wide track that leads back around the bay before climbing up onto the top of the peninsula. Follow this fast undulating track along the tops (with great views of the Kaikoura mountains and sea) back to the start.


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Features of interest

Seals, seagulls, surf and ships!

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 20%

Technical Single Track: 20%

Moderate Single Track: 10%

Easy Single Track: 50%

Route Data


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  • Access

    Follow the road from Kaikoura township around bay, past the Pier Hotel and on to the end of the road where there is a large circular car park (or park anywhere before then on the road).

    Plenty of parking

    5 km

    8 minutes



  • Staying Safe



    Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    No water on route

    Best at low tide (don't try this at high tide).

  • Post run indulgence

    Seafood Caravan
    Jimmy Armers beach
    Excellent bar-b-que seafood at a good price by Kaikoura locals.

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