Kaikōura, where the mountains meet the sea

Known for its beauty and extensive range of marine wildlife, this place is one of the most beautiful the planet has to offer. But, how did it form?

The mountains, known as the Kaikōura Ranges are made up of the Inland and our local Seaward Kaikōura Ranges; the highest peak in the Seaward Kaikōura Ranges is Manakau (2608 m). Mt Fyffe (1602 m) is most popular for a day hike, and if you don’t fancy the 1602 m climb, our Whale Watch Premier flight can land you at the top where you can admire the views after spotting whales, dolphins and seals!   


Look at this photo closely and you will see folding in the rock layers formed due to regional metamorphism as the land has uplifted and been squeezed. 

These mountain ranges have been uplifting by 4-6m every 1000 years, due to the strike-slip(sideways)movement of the complex Marlborough Fault System. If you look over to the mountains, you will see there is a sudden change in gradient from the flat area around Kaikōura to the mountains. This line marks the Hope fault which is one of the most active faults in New Zealand. In addition, this area hosts the Clarence fault forming the beautiful Clarence Valley.The mountains themselves are made from greywacke (a type of sandstone formed in the early Cretaceous period)and the flat region is composed of sediments formed as the process of erosion breaks down the mountains. If you look over to the peninsula, you can also spot limestone formed over thousands of years (late Cretaceous – early Paleogene)from sea organisms; a perfect spot for seals to sunbathe! 



Flying over this ever changing landscape is a experience like no other. First image shows the infamous hope Fault.

2016 was a significant year for Kaikōura due to the 7.8 earthquake that occurred in November. Recognised as one of the most complicated earthquakes ever recorded, this ground shaking event took the region by surprise and caused large landslides and structural damage to the infrastructure; still to this day it has had a significant impact on the landscape and its people. The sea bed rose in places and now sits above the surface, meanwhile the Hope fault shifted in places by about 15cm.The rebuilding of the road by our friends at NCTIR is a constant reminder to the community of its impact. 

This being said, among the chaos beauty was also created by a landslide in the form of Hapuku lake. As you soar through the valley and over the lake, you can appreciate its vibrant blue colour. A magical adventure. 




For more information on the geology or to visit some sites in and around New Zealand, go to https://www.geotrips.org.nz.


Posted by South Pacific Helicopters on March 29, 2019