Last Updated: 1st Jun 2024


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I've done it Done

Kaikoura Cracker

Kaikoura, Canterbury

Submitted by Mike Steel

Last Updated: 1st Jun 2024


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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 11 ?

Gnarl Factor: 48 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest



Open farmlands

Open tussock/grasslands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +7.9%

Average Downhill Gradient: -7.4%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.


Seals, seagulls, surf and ships!

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Plenty of parking

5 km

8 minutes





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).

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

Trail Legend

Delphine Touzouli

Delphine Touzouli

has completed Kaikoura Cracker twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Good fun - sea, seals, great views, and a varied route.

Tara Jackson

April 9, 2023

Absolutely fabulous trail! I recommend starting and finishing at South Bay as there tends to be more carparking available. I also had to tentatively pick my way through nesting gulls to avoid a group of seals.

Richele McKenzie

February 6, 2023

Gorgeous run I did at sunrise. Plenty of seals (a couple of standoffs) and lots of boisterous gulls to contend with. I did feel bad at one point having to go through a nesting site by the cave as there was no way round, so if doing this in summer you might want to avoid the bays. Low tide was a good tip too.

Joe Benbow

January 14, 2023

Short and sweet, wow! Great variety of wildlife, landscape, and terrain set against a gorgeous alpine backdrop. Punches well above its weight. Do this run!!

Matt Halverson

November 14, 2021

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