The Kaikoura Ranges

Last Modified: 21-2-2019 9:35

Kaikoura range

Extending roughly from south of the Awatere River in the north, through to the Conway River in the south, there are actually two mountain ranges known as Kaikoura. The Seaward Kaikoura Range rises up almost directly out of the sea in places, while the Inland Kaikoura Range runs parallel but further west, divided from the Seaward Kaikoura Range by the Clarence River.

Formed initially during the Miocene epoch, the Kaikoura ranges are composed primarily of greywacke and argillite. Further mountain building occurred during the early Pleistocene, and it was during this period that the dramatic uplifting occurred that raised these mountains to their current heights.

The highest mountain in the Seaward Kaikoura Range is Manakau at 2610m, and Tapuae-O-uenuku is the highest mountain in the Inland Kaikoura Range, and also in Marlborough at 2885m

Periods of glaciation has led to erosion and scree formation. Soil is generally poor and the steepness of the terrain tends to lead to instability. Unfortuately colonial activities resulted in deforestation of much of the area, however subsequent regeneration of indigenous flora has occurred in places.

Marlborough rock daisy (Pachystegia insignis) is common on many exposed rock faces, particularly along the coast, and inland there remain some remnants of beech forest. There is also some podocarp forest at higher altitudes.

In coastal areas a wide variety of indigenous shrubs and small trees have regenerated along with native flax, and an ideal habitat is provided for many native birds.

The area has been protected since 1866, and currently there is a proposal under consideration to turn the area into a national park.

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The Kaikoura Ranges. (2019) Retrieved May, 23, 2022, from