Treat yourself to a myriad of experiences in Christchurch and Canterbury. This is the perfect base for experiencing adventure activities of every description.
New Zealand’s second-largest city is also one of its most beautiful, known for its parks and gardens, and placid rivers bordered by green lawns. Some of its famous Gothic revival stone buildings were damaged in the Christchurch earthquake of 22 February 2011, but the city remains a worthwhile visitor destination and a great base for experiencing the diversity of the Canterbury region and the South Island beyond.
In and around the city are a myriad of outdoor activities from the relaxing to the adventurous – from hiking and mountain-biking in the Port Hills on the city’s doorstep, to getting up-close with native wildlife at one of Christchurch’s renowned wildlife parks. Banks Peninsula, just south of Christchurch, is a beautiful area of bays and rolling hills. The picturesque village of Akaroa, New Zealand’s only French settlement, is a popular destination offering great cafés and the chance to swim with rare Hector’s Dolphins.
It is also an easy drive southwest from Christchurch to the popular resort of Methven. Also referred to as Mount Hutt Village, this is the gateway to Canterbury’s largest ski area and is a bustling ski resort in the winter months.
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Christchurch Art Gallery Admire the beautiful curving glass frontage. Hagley Park A beautiful green space right in the heart of the city. Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps A patchwork of fields spread out before a mountain backdrop.
The Horsepower Experience (Christchurch) Race around an all-weather track at 50 km/h. www.horsepower.co.nz Rangitata Rafts (Peel Forest) Experience the thrill of a Grade 5 white-water raft ride down the Rangitata River. www.rafts.co.nz Waimak Alpine Jet (Springfield) High-speed jet boating in the Waimakariri River Canyon. www.alpinejet.co.nz Skiing or snowboarding Canterbury is home to 14 different ski areas.
Relax & Indulge
Punting on the Avon (Christchurch) Nothing could be more serene than gliding down the Avon River. www.punting.co.nz Up Up and Away Balloon Adventures (Christchurch) Drift serenely over the countryside in a hot air balloon. www.ballooning.co.nz
Terrace Downs (Rakaia Gorge) Deluxe accommodation and championship golf course. www.terracedowns.co.nz Otahuna Lodge (Tai Tapu) Prestigious luxury accommodation meets exemplary service. www.otahuna.co.nz Peppers Clearwater Resort (Christchurch) Luxurious accommodation; championship golf course. www.clearwaternz.com
Ko Tane (Christchurch) Maori cultural experience including a performance and a living village. www.kotane.co.nz Tamaki Heritage Village – Lost in Our Own Land (Christchurch) A night of drama and feasting at a replica Maori village. www.globalstorytellers.com
Natural New Zealand
Banks Peninsula Track (Akaroa) Four-day hike in spectacular scenery. www.bankstrack.co.nz Swimming with dolphins (Akaroa) Step into a dry suit and swim with the world’s smallest dolphins. www.blackcat.co.nz Arthurs Pass National Park Take a guided nature walk followed by an iconic TranzAlpine rail journey on the same day. www.unlimitednz.co.nz Kiwi spotting (Christchurch) Try the Eggs to Adult Kiwi Tour. www.willowbank.co.nz
On a Budget
Botanic Gardens (Christchurch) The green heart of the garden city. www.ccc.govt.nz/botanicgardens International Antarctic Centre (Christchurch) An interactive and exciting experience of the ‘Great White South’. www.iceberg.co.nz Canterbury Museum (Christchurch) Popular for more than 130 years. www.canterburymuseum.com
The Iconic Experience
Catch the TranzAlpine for a spectacular rail journey across the Canterbury Plains and through the ruggedly beautiful Southern Alps to the West Coast. www.tranzscenic.co.nz
Dining & Shopping
Pescatore, The George Hotel (Christchurch) One of New Zealand’s best contemporary dining experiences. www.thegeorge.com
Dux de Lux (Christchurch) Iconic restaurant serving fresh New Zealand food, in a casual yet cosmopolitan atmosphere. www.thedux.co.nz
Tutto Bene Italian Restaurant & Pizzeriea (Christchurch) Traditional Italian cuisine and authentic ambience ensure the popularity of this busy eatery. www.tuttobene.co.nz
Diamond Bar (Christchurch) Sophisticated ambience at the Christchurch Casino. www.christchurchcasino.co.nz
The Brewers Arms (Christchurch) Traditional English-style pub in Merivale. www.thebrewersarms.co.nz
Seagars at Oxford, Cook School & Café (Oxford) Take a class with a cooking personality. www.joseagar.com
Shop or Gallery
The Riccarton Market A huge, down-to-earth local market held every weekend and featuring dozens of craft and food stalls. www.riccartonmarket.co.nz
2 days in Canterbury
Start Christchurch I Finish Hanmer Springs
Day 1 Christchurch
Day 2 Christchurch – Hanmer Springs
On arrival in Christchurch, explore Hagley Park and go punting on the Avon River. Visit Canterbury Museum and stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Drive to the International Antarctic Centre and experience the Penguin Encounter and then enjoy a mountain biking adventure. On Day 2, drive to Hanmer Springs, stopping in the Waipara Valley for a vineyard lunch. Experience a jet boat ride at Thrillseekers Canyon and recover at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa.
5 days in Canterbury
Start Christchurch I Finish Christchurch
Day 1 Christchurch
Day 2 Christchurch
Day 3 Akaroa
Day 4 Christchurch – Greymouth
Day 5 Christchurch
On Day 1, explore Canterbury Museum and go punting on the Avon. Day 2 Start with a hot air balloon ride, visit the International Antarctic Centre, then browse the shops in Merivale, Riccarton or Victoria Street. Day 3 Take a leisurely drive to Akaroa, enjoy lunch at a beachfront café and swim with the dolphins. Day 4 Indulge yourself and take the TranzAlpine to Greymouth and back again to Christchurch, arriving in time for dinner. Day 5 Go river rafting.
The drive from Christchurch to Akaroa The magnificent scenery on this road varies from open plains and rolling hills to stunning seascapes.
Christchurch International Airport, 20 minutes from the city centre, services the region with a wide range of flights to domestic and international destinations. www.christchurch-airport.co.nz
Christchurch is a four hour, 30 minute drive from Picton and a four hour, 45 minute drive from Dunedin. Coaches and shuttles offer regular services. There are many car rental companies, and the city is well served with public transport.
Tranz Scenic operates two spectacular railway journeys in the South Island. The TranzCoastal service runs between Christchurch and Picton, and The TranzAlpine which travels over the dividing range between The Garden City and West Coast. www.tranzscenic.co.nz