Update: The Ohau Point Stream Waterfall Track is closed due to earthquake damage. We recommend to check out the Department of Conservation website for up-to-date information on this.
On our last day on the south island of New Zealand, we visited the Ohau Point Fur Seal Colony. Ohau Point is about 20 km north of Kaikoura, and one of the best spots in the area to watch New Zealand fur seals do their thing: laying around, doing nothing. It can only stay that way if we don’t chase the fur seals away, so keep your distance and observe them in a non-intrusive way.
If you plan your visit to Ohau Point at the right time though, you might behold the seals in a more active mood. Keep reading to find out more.
The Ohau Point Lookout
The Ohau Point Lookout is on your right, when driving north from Kaikoura to Picton. It’s a viewing platform where you can observe the Ohau Point fur seal colony at a distance. While getting out of your car, you can immediately smell the residents of Ohau Point. Yes, they’re smelly, but they’re so cool! Bring your binoculars for an even better view.
Mostly fur seals just lay around being lazy, but in summer it’s courting time and there’s supposed to be a lot of action. We visited in May though, in autumn, when the action is on the other side of the road, at the Ohau Stream Waterfall.
The Ohau Point Stream Waterfall Track
On the inland side of the road, about 1 km further north from the Ohau Point Lookout, there’s a short walking track: the Ohau Point Stream Waterfall Track. From the trailhead to the waterfall, it’s about 300 meters of easy walking along the Ohau Stream. Every winter, hundreds of New Zealand fur seal pups travel up this stream to the waterfall, said a sign along the track. Between the months of May and September you’ll have the best chance of seeing them play in the stream, while their mothers are feeding out in the ocean.
We saw some seal pups in the stream while walking, even one on the path, but the best spot is at the waterfall at the end of the track. Tons of fur seal pups were playing there, so cute! The sign said they interact socially, which looks a lot like fighting to me. Together with a couple of other people we stood around for a while, watching them play, before heading back to our car to continue our trip to Picton.
The Ohau Point fur seal colony is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood. We had never seen seal pups before, let alone that many and playing at a waterfall. Many thanks to Scott and his NZ Frenzy guidebook that told us about this place. It was awesome!
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