Popular seal lookout reopens two years after Kaikōura earthquake devastation

An award-winning seal sanctuary and lookout point north of Kaikōura reopened on Thursday in time for the long weekend.

Up to 20 cars can park at the Ōhau safe stopping point, one of the hardest hit areas by the 2016 earthquake which caused a major landslide around the seal sanctuary and wiped out much of the seal population.

Department of Conservation south Marlborough operations manager Phil Bradfield said that seal numbers at the Point, 25km north of Kaikōura, were still low now, due to "all the activity with the road rebuild, big machinery and lots of people".

But Stuff reports healthy seal numbers along the Kaikōura Peninsula and coastline.

Mr Bradfield also told Stuff that people should stay at least 20 metres away from the animals for safety.

"We've had people try to touch them or get close enough for a selfie, but they are wild animals and they can move very quickly on land even though they appear docile, and they are carnivores with very sharp teeth," he said.

New Zealand Transport Agency owner interface manager Colin Knaggs told Stuff the Ōhau Point stopping area itself will receive a facelift next year, with iwi and carvers assisting to develop plantings and cultural design elements.