Kaikoura is just a small seaside town on the east coast of the South Island but it attracts thousands of  visitors from around the world. World famous as the place where people can get up close and personal with a variety of marine wildlife, Kaikoura has become a must stop on any  New Zealand itinerary.

Most  come for the whale watching, to swim with the seals and dolphins, encounter albatross and other sea birds, or to simply sit on the beach and picnic on fresh crayfish bought from a roadside stall.

But those in the know will head to the Ohau Falls just 15 minutes north of Kaikoura on State Highway One. The first and only clue that it exists is the ‘Ohau Stream’ signpost hidden on the left side of the highway, followed by a gravel car park.

       

A short walkway starting  underneath the railway line leads through dense bush to the small Ohau waterfall. Here, dozens of fur seal pups cavorting in the green pool below the falls while their mothers are out at sea hunting for food. 

Not all the pups are playing though.

Some, tired of all the social interaction, take off by themselves for a little down time.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.