The Natural Lab - Kaikoura

Here we focus on sustainable tourism and the impact of tourism on small communities; Te Ao Māori, Tikanga Māori.


Kaikoura is the name of both the township and the peninsula on which it is located. The cold Antarctic current and warmer waters from the north converge off the coast of the peninsula. The continental shelf drops off steeply within 1000 metres offshore. The resulting upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water from the south supports a large variety of marine mammals and pelagic birds. Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscuris), fur seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) and several species of whales are commonly found offshore of Kaikoura. The tourism industry in Kaikoura is built on these resources. EcoQuest has a strong relationship with Kati Kuri and there are a number of local initiatives to which we have contributed over the years.

“One of the greatest things I learned at EcoQuest is the idea that meaningful science has human dimensions. EcoQuest faculty invested years nesting the program into broader communities, allowing students to make personal connections and gain a deeper understanding of the role of science. In doing so, they illuminated the broader context of our ecological research. Many inspirations pushed me to where I am currently, but EcoQuest was the first to set me on this trajectory. Thank you for helping me get in touch with my passion!”

Natalie Lowell, B.S University of California at Berkeley; M.S. School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington: Ph.D. student, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington.















“Along the beaches of Kaiaua, high on the slopes in the Southern Alps, deep in the kelp forests of Poor Knights, at Kaikoura where the mountain meets the sea......there is something really special about moving to a place for a long period of time in your life. It not only opens your mind to new opportunities and experiences but it also pushes your boundaries and challenges you to see what you can do.”

Mary Offutt, University of New Hampshire