Boat trips offering whale-watching and swimming with dolphins, seals or sharks have helped put Kaikoura, New Zealand, a once-quiet South Island fishing village 115 mi/185 km north of Christchurch, on the map. Whale-watching boats are equipped with underwater microphones, so the success rate for sightings is quite high. Some species are rare and found only in the Southern Hemisphere, and sperm whales are seen almost year-round.

For landlubbers, a number of nice walking trails begin near town, the most popular being a half-day coastal walk along the peninsula, which winds past stunning limestone formations and several seal colonies. Swimming with dolphins and seals is popular, with countless operators competing for your dollar.

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