Top picks for an unforgettable Christchurch and Canterbury holiday

Christchurch is the perfect starting point to discover a broad range of experiences within the city and further afield in Canterbury.

Touch down in the eclectic, reinvented and picturesque city of Christchurch. Boarded by the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the majestic Southern Alps, and an ancient volcanic peninsula. Christchurch is the perfect starting point to discover a broad range of experiences within the city and further afield in Canterbury. From lush vineyards sky piercing mountains, pristine glacial lakes to wild coastlines, Christchurch and Canterbury is a region of remarkable contrast. With so much to see and do it’s the perfect setting for an unforgettable holiday.

Here are some of our top picks for a memorable Christchurch and Canterbury holiday

1. City reinvented

Street art, converted shipping containers and a fridge book exchange are a few examples of the ever-changing and dynamic landscape of Christchurch. There are surprises around every corner as the city rebuilds. Quirky and creative is fused with traditional elements such as the Botanic gardens and trams. It’s no wonder that publications such as Lonely Planet and The New York Times have included Christchurch on their ‘must do’ lists.

2. Swimming with dolphins

There are two fantastic locations to swim with dolphins in the Canterbury region. To get up close and personal with the world’s smallest and rare Hector’s dolphin head to the picturesque harbour town of Akaroa. Here the extinct volcanic harbour setting provides sheltered waters and stunning surrounds for an awe-inspiring experience. For an open sea dolphin swimming adventure head to Kaikoura where you can swim with the larger species of dusky dolphins. If you’re lucky you can literally swim amongst a pod of hundreds of these majestical, playful and curious creatures.

3. Glacial landing

Touch down on the longest glacier in New Zealand – the Tasman Glacier. As your ski-plane graciously glides along the snow you’ll feel dwarfed by the grandeur of the mountains around you. Enjoy 10 minutes on the snow with the plane’s engines turned off to fully appreciate the natural silence of the surrounding Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

4. Cruising with icebergs

Board your custom-built boat for the trip of a lifetime on the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake in the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. This unique New Zealand tour is one of three tours of its kind in the world! Travel by boat past huge floating icebergs, towering ice cliffs and touch 500-year-old ice.

5. Darkest sky, brightest stars

Ever wondered exactly what’s ‘out there’? Experience some of the world’s clearest, darkest and breathtaking night skies at Lake Tekapo’s Mount John Observatory. Internationally recognised as one of the best observatories to view the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky. Tour through the galaxies with your English, Mandarin or Japanese speaking guide.

6. Canterbury from the air

Float serenely over the patchwork Canterbury Plains in a hot air balloon with marvellous vistas from the Pacific Ocean, across braided rivers to the mighty Southern Alps. Witness the sun rising highlighting the remarkable tapestry of this wonderful region. Your adventure concludes with a glass of bubbles or chilled orange juice in the countryside as you help pack up the balloon.

7. Whale watching

Rich in marine life the name Kaikoura was reputedly given to the area by Tamatea-pōkaiwhenua after eating crayfish. Kai in Māori translates as food and kōura is crayfish. The deep undersea canyons and sea currents of the Kaikoura area are a year-round mecca for a vast array of marine life including sperm whales. View these creatures by air or sea on your whale watching adventure. After an action packed day treat yourself to some famous Kaikoura crayfish. Dine on this delicacy in style at one of Kaikoura’s many eateries or simply pull up on the side of the road and enjoy a cooked cray wrapped in newspaper – YUM!

8. New Zealand’s top alpine train journey

Travel from east to west onboard the TranzAlpine. Voted as one of the top short train journeys in the world, your train will travel over the Canterbury Plains into the heart of the Southern Alps. Pass lush rainforest, picturesque valleys, viaducts and roaring waterfalls before arriving in the West Coast town of Greymouth.

9. Safari by jet boat

Take-off at full speed by jet boat as it traverses the stunning scenery of the Waimakariri Gorge. Your driver will provide full commentary and perform thrilling manoeuvres as they navigate the ever-changing river ways. The 360 degree turns will leave your knuckles white and your heart pumping!

10. Natural thermal waters

Wash away your worries in the tranquil surrounds and therapeutic waters of Hanmer Springs. The waters of the springs have been recognised for over a century with thousands of visitors making the pilgrimage to relax and unwind from the stress of day-to-day life. Nowadays guests are greeted by a modern complex that has been extensively developed to include a range of pools, temperatures and spa facilities.

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