The Kaikoura Rugby Club formed in 1888 and is one of the older clubs in New Zealand. In the early days the Club actually played in the Christchurch competition and travelled by ship to Lyttelton. These trips took three days in total. In 1914 the Hurunui Sub-Union was formed. Kaikoura joined and remained there until 1972 when a decision was made to join the Marlborough Union. There was much debate over this move as it was not a unanimous decision. However, the Club is now one of the larger clubs in the Marlborough Union with teams represented in most grades. In the early days Rugby was played on what is now the Top Ten Holiday Park and local hotels and halls were used as clubrooms. Joining Hurunui eased the transport problem, but the Inland Waiau Road and the Hundalees in those days posed many problems especially in the winter months because most of the rivers had to be crossed because there were very few bridges. Kaikoura first won the Hurunui competition in 1915 and had further wins in 1919, 1921, 1934, 1937, 1939 and for four consecutive years from 1946 to 1949. Further wins were in 1956, 1965 and 1966. The Club has done well in the Marlborough Union but has only taken out the Championship title in one season – 1985.
Historically, Kaikoura was a town built on fishing, farming, road and rail construction gangs. When the club moved to the present site, the old Nursery building between the Squash and Bowling club was used as a changing room. We also used the Memorial Hall from time to time. In 1971 The new clubrooms were built and have had several extensions done in the intervening years. The Late Jim Gameson drove the existing building project with many volunteers helping. Russell Arthur (builder) and Robin Stubbersfield (plumber) drove the extension project for the changing rooms. The late Jim Garrett was also involved in planning the new bar and toilet areas.
Takahanga domain is now an excellent venue. In the early years there was a cycle race track around the park with the rugby ground in the centre.
In 1970 the Club took on a lease of land by the Greenburn River and planted pine trees. The first crop has been harvested and a second crop is well underway. The original planting and viticulture work was done by the Club over the summer break. Much fun was had on these days once the work was completed.
Many local names are sprinkled through the history of the Club. The first senior side to play in the Marlborough competition in 1972 comprised names like Alan Thomas, Simon Bell, John Fletcher, Barry Ford, Brian Ford, Ken Ford, Mick Ford, Tony Ford, Bill Gibson (Vice Captain), Winston Gray, Kerry Harris, Stan Joseph, Rupert Laugesen, Wally Mackle, Alec Mowat, Peter Mowat, Percy Riddell (Captain) Brian Stevens, Alan Watkins.
Kaikoura currently fields a very competitive Junior Club with most age grades represented.
Kaikoura Rugby Club celebrated 125 years in 2013.