Fyffe House

In a stunning seaside setting, Fyffe House is Kaikoura’s oldest surviving building and the last remnant of a pioneer whaling station established in 1842.

Fyffe House in its setting

Its story starts with Māori, the first inhabitants of Kaikoura, drawn by ocean bounty including kaimoana (seafood) and seabirds. In the early 1840s, Scotsman Robert Fyfe arrived with four whaleboats to chase tohorā, the mighty southern right whale. Their oil would light the homes of Europe, far away.

Standing pretty in pink in a proud location on Kaikoura’s peninsula, Fyffe House is all that is left of the once-busy Waiopuka whaling station. Erected in 1844, it is a good example of a wooden colonial cottage, complete with character furniture, attic rooms, and various modifications typical of the times in which people made the most of what they had.

Indeed, exploring Fyffe House shows just how harsh family life was during Kaikoura’s early settlement, and how resourceful its citizens needed to be. Such stories are evocatively recounted through collected artefacts, dioramas and audio tales, and in the whalebones that form the building’s foundations. These strange foundations can be viewed from the pretty cottage garden, a charming place for an amble.

The grounds surrounding the cottage afford fabulous views of the ocean and inland snow-capped mountains. Visitors will also discover interesting clues to past activities at this site; a striking carving, Pou Tangaroa, recounts stories relating to the area’s Māori history.

Fyffe House lies about midway along the two-hour return walk that follows the shoreline between central Kaikoura and the Point Kean Seal Colony. This walk can also be extended to a half-day loop via the Peninsula Walkway – a must-do for active visitors. A lovely little gift shop is located at Fyffe House.

Come and visit!

Find out about our opening hours and much more here.

On the edge of a vast ocean, a little pink cottage rides on the back of a whale.
  • Kaikoura coast

    Fyffe House dwarfed by mountains.  Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Fyffe House

    Fyffe House.  Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Diorama at Fyffe House

    Beautiful dioramas portray the whaling story.  Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Bedroom at Fyffe House

    The attic bedroom.  Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Kitchen at Fyffe House

    The kitchen at Fyffe House.  Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Pot and whalebones at Fyffe House

    Whale bones and pot on the verandah.  Image: Grant Sheehan

  • Fyffe at night

    Fyffe House on a starry night.  Image: Grant Sheehan