Kaikoura Travel Blog› entry 3 of 5 › view all entries
Kaikoura is a picturesque little town built either side of a headland. The Pacific Ocean rolls onto its shoreline while behind the Southern Alps sweep around to meet the ocean just north of the town. The shoreline is black volcanic stones which can a photographers dream when the sun is out, the ocean takes on a blue green tinge and the Southern Alps are covered in snow. The town lies at the end of a deep trench,the Kaikoura Canyon in the floor of the Pacific and just under a mile offshore it plunges to a depth of 2000 metres. Kaikoura was originally a whaling town as whales were plentiful following the deep trench close to shore. Today Kaikoura still earned its living from the whales but now by the tourist dollar with people coming to the town to view these magnificent creatures. As well as the whales the waters abound with dolphins and seals. The latter are easy to spot along the coastline both north and south of the town. There are plenty of viewing spots, where ever these is an outcrop of rocks and in each location the seals are easily viewed from your car or from the roadside making it extremely accessible.
The main strip of Kaikoura is one along the foreshore either side of the main street. As it is an old town accessibility varies greatly. Many of the shops and places to eat have three to four steps. Some have built ramps but they are steep and are not accessible without the aid of someone to push. For fast food the bridge cafe offers full accessibility with its own car park on the bridge side of the building. The diary (milkbar or drug store) at the bridge end of the town is also accessible. The Adelphi offers good quality pub food and is accessible through the side door opposite the mural. Accessible tables are available on the verandah at the front of the building. Public toilets are at the southern end of the town shopping strip. Further south is the information centre but the access ramp is too steep for unassisted access. Access to the supermarket is again too steep but there is a New World supermarket 2 kilometres to the north of the town on the Picton road with good car parking and level access.
Whale Watch Kaikoura.
For one of the great wildlife experiences Whale Watch Kaikoura operates year with its modern fleet of purpose built catamarans. The Giant Sperm Whale lives in these waters and can be viewed throughout the year. Subject to weather the tours are scheduled at 7:15 am, 10 am, and 12:45 daily. The tours are available for people with disabilities. The main booking office information centre gift shop and cafe at the Whale Station are all accessible from a ramp at the sea side of the building. The outdoor cafe is also accessible via a ramp opposite the beach side entrance to the main building. While there is an access ramp the tables provided are not accessible as the seats are not moveable and there is no roll under provision on the tables.
Wheelchair dependant passengers are advised to take their own cars around to the vessel dock in South Bay and parking is provided next to the vessel jetty. Access to the jetty is by a slight gradient ramp. Passengers will be transferred into a carry chair, very similar to an aircraft aisle chair at the point for passage up the gangway and into the vessel and will be put into one of the front windows seats on the catamaran. Passengers own wheelchairs can be stored in their own cars or if they are travelling alone in the secure maintenance sheds on the wharf. Captains will ensure they position their vessels to the side of the whales that give viewing to their disabled passengers. The toilets on the vessels are not accessible and the aisle chair is not available during the whale watching cruise. Disabled passengers are loaded first and disembarked last. The cruise length is approximately 2:15 and with embarkation disembarkation the total duration is approx 2:45 - 3:00 hours. Advance is booking is requested to ensure staff are on hand at the jetty to ensure safe embarkation. Wheelchair passengers are requested to arrive at the jetty early to enable their embarkation prior to the arrival of the bused passengers from the Whale Station.
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