Kaikoura is a small coastal town on the east coast (Pacific Ocean) of the South Island of New Zealand, about 180 km north of Christchurch and 130 km south of Blenheim. It is famed for its marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals) and other sea-life, all of which you can see, some of which you can swim with, and some you can eat. In Māori, kai means "eat" and kōura is "crayfish" (rock lobster). So Kaikoura is a place to eat crayfish!
Kaikoura lies on a coastal plain and a peninsula between high mountains and the Pacific Ocean. In places along this coast the mountains drop almost straight into the sea, with barely enough flat land for a single railway line, two-lane road and rocky beach, and even then some short tunnels are needed on corners. The steepness of the mountains reflects the underwater geography, with the deep-water Hikurangi Trench and the continental shelf edge lying just offshore south of the peninsula. This makes the ocean around Kaikoura rich in sea life, attracting seals, whales (and humans) to the area to partake in the bounty of the sea.
The town has a similar charm to an east coast USA beach town, with a hodgepodge of signs trying to grab tourists' attention. At the edges of the town, the more relaxed and nature-oriented activities again take precedence.