Historical Points of Interest

Want to learn about some Kaikoura history? Check out these places!

Nga Niho Pa

According to Te Ara, the encyclopaedia of NZ, this Pa was thought to have been built during the 1820s when the people of Ngāti Toa, under the leadership of Te Rauparaha, waged war against Ngāi Tahu. It is strongly defended, with high earth walls, and appears to have been constructed to withstand musket fire. From the pā, enemy canoes could be seen approaching along the coast. The Pa site and fortified walls are located on Scarborough Street on the left hand side if heading up to the Kaikoura Lookout. It can also be reached off a public walking track from Torquay Street, the entry of which is up some brown wooden steps behind the house at 122 Torquay.

Pier Hotel

Charming, period hotel & pub on the edge of the Kaikoura Peninsula, just meters from the ocean. Famous for its fresh, local seafood menu & sea and mountain vistas. It’s also one of the best venues in Kaikoura for watching an evening sunset.

The Pier Hotel was originally constructed in the late 1800’s on a different site near Kaikoura's old wharf. Originally built to provide accommodation trade from the many ships which called at Kaikoura, and as a local watering hole for salty sea dogs. When local maritime trade continued to increase, a new wharf was required and was built slightly closer to Kaikoura town. The decision was made to also move the Hotel. The building was cut into pieces and shifted with the help of rollers and a traction engine to its current site.

In the early 1900’s, a visiting hotel inspector proclaimed it the best country hotel in New Zealand. Today you can still visit and soak up the ambience once enjoyed by trader, sailors, whalers and fisherman of old. If only those walls could talk!

Whaling Station ruins & Memorial to Whalers – South Bay, Kaikoura

The small enclosure here just next to the modern port and marina at South Bay, Kaikoura, contain the only remaining visible signs of what was a major industry in the area for much of the 19th century.

SHORE BASED WHALING 1843 - 1922. (from the onsite information panel)

 The Kaikoura whaling industry began at Waiopuka on the north side of the Kaikoura peninsula in 1842-43. On the southern side of the peninsula, Wade and Fitzgerald began whaling here at Moa Point (Te Hiku o te Waeroa) in 1844. The whaling station passed through several owners and stages of development; the oar-powered longboats, hand-held harpoons and try-pots of the early days gave way to motorized chasers, harpoon guns and the whale processing factory that stood here. Whaling at Kaikoura ceased in 1922 with the closure of this factory.

The information board also shows some early photographs, A Right Whale caught at South Bay in 1903; A catch by J. Johnson's party, and two views of the whaling factory from 1917. There is also a plan of the visible ruins, the concrete Water Tank being the most visible, just to the right of the info board. Other easily visible remains are the concrete Blubber pit and Effluent Channel

Fyffe House

“On the edge of a vast ocean, a little pink cottage rides on the back of a whale”

In the early 1840s, Scotsman Robert Fyfe arrived here with four whaleboats to chase tohorā, the mighty southern right whale. Built right beside the mighty Pacific Ocean on a foundation of whale bones and still painted in its original pink hue, Fyffe House is Kaikoura’s oldest surviving building and all that remains of an old whaling station established in 1842.

It is a pretty and charming wooden colonial cottage, complete with period furniture, cute attic rooms and a quaint little cottage garden.

Fyffe House can be found about halfway between the historic Pier Hotel and the Seal Colony.

Te Tura o Make (Mackay’s Stool) South Bay, Kaikoura

James Mackay Junior is best known for purchase of the West Coast and Kaikoura from Maori and the opening of the Thames and Ohinemuri goldfields.

The task set to James Mackay by the New Zealand Government of the time was to "extinguish the Maori title", that is to settle with minor owners and to set aside reserves for their use. His first assignment was to complete the Kaikoura purchase in 1859 and then to continue on to the West Coast and deal with the Arahura block in 1860.

Altogether Mackay spent over three months in the Kaikoura area. For about a month he was engaged in prolonged discussions with the Maori Tribes, and it is believed that was when he sat on the rock which he has marked on a map of the South Bay Reserve as "Te Turu o Make" (Mackay's Stool). Once the talking was over he set about marking off the reserves.

The rock can be found inside a small enclosure just to the left of the main slipway at the marina in South Bay.

Memorial Hall Plaque and Reserve

In 1828 Te Rauparaha was ready for his first attack on the South Island tribes. Te Rauparaha and his Ngati Toa went down the east coast by canoe to Kaikoura. There he defeated the local branch of the Ngai Tahu tribe, who mistakenly believed the canoes to be those of a party of visitors they had been expecting. The unarmed people were completely taken by surprise, some 1,400 being killed or taken prisoner across the Kaikoura peninsula. (From An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, published in 1966, edited by A. H. McLintock).

The Kaikoura Memorial Centre on the Esplanade was built on land where some of these attacks took place and is situated over the road from the beach and the landing site of Te Rauparaha. There are burials from the massacre on this site and in the reserve behind the hall. The local Pa is situated on the hill behind the Hall. If you go to the right hand side of the building near the front as shown in the picture above, you will find a plaque memorializing this event and the loss of lives of the Ngai Tahu warriors.




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