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During the 22nd season of The Amazing Race, nine two-person teams - ranging from a couple of country and western singers to a pair of roller derby moms - visited New Zealand, heading south to the picturesque Canterbury region.
The New Zealand leg
The Emmy award-winning show features eleven teams who travel over 30,000 miles, through nine countries and on five different continents – all the while competing to win a US$1 million prize.
During the New Zealand leg of the race, based in Canterbury, the teams had to make their way from the garden city of Christchurch to the banks of the Rakaia River for 12 hours of adventure, exhilaration, exhaustion and New Zealand culture.
The race immediately got contestants’ adrenaline pumping by whizzing up the Rakaia River in a jet boat to their first challenge. Visitors to New Zealand can experience this for themselves on the Discovery Jet, combining the excitement of high speeds with breathtaking views of the glacial fed Rakaia Gorge and Southern Alps.
The first tough decision of the race for the contestants was whether to employ their skill by fishing for salmon, or splashing through streams on an ATV to a rally car challenge. Keen anglers can cast their own rods in New Zealand with Back Country New Zealand, who offer full day guided fishing tours around Canterbury.
The final leg of the race took contestants through rolling farmland at the base of the stunning Southern Alps, where their skill and agility was tested in the shemozzle – a traditional Kiwi farm race that is usually raced by sheepdogs. The teams then raced to the finish line at the stunning Terrace Downs resort, which also doubled as a pit-stop.
Bringing the show home
This episode was extra special to the show’s long-time host, Phil Keoghan, as he brought it to the region where he was born and raised for the first time. It was his chance to show millions of Amazing Race fans what his home town has to offer.
Exploring the Canterbury Region
The Canterbury region rises from the Pacific Ocean, sweeps across vast plains, through braided river valleys, and climbs into the magnificent Southern Alps that divide the length of the South Island.
As New Zealand’s largest region, Canterbury is also home to Akaroa, a quaint French inspired seaside village; Kaikoura, New Zealand’s most popular whale watching destination and Tekapo, where you can visit the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the southern hemisphere.
Methven – the base for crew and cast during their time in New Zealand
Methven - an easy 60-minute drive from Christchurch International Airport - is Canterbury’s main ski resort, which services Mt Hutt ski area and six other ski fields.
Thrill seekers can take a jet boat spin through the Rakaia Gorge, or go rafting on the Rangitata River while others choose a quieter activity - a spot of fly fishing for salmon and trout, similar activities to those the race contestants experienced.
On the northern banks of the Rakaia, Terrace Downs is one of New Zealand’s top international golf resorts. The resort includes a variety of accommodation, dining and spa activities.
From adventure to scenery there is something for everyone in the Garden City
Christchurch city promises a mix of historic elegance, spectacular gardens and contemporary culture. Described by the Lonely Planet as a "vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively,” Christchurch is showing off its vibrancy with new developments popping up all over the place such as the Re:Start shopping area and Pop Up City bars.
Although rejuvenating itself, the city is still famous for its old favorites including the International Antarctic Centre, Orana Wildlife Park and walking, mountain biking or driving through the Port Hills for stunning views of the city and coast.
South Island must-do’s
After conquering Canterbury, don’t leave the South Island without experiencing the following:
- Just a three hour drive west from Christchurch through the spectacular Arthurs Pass, pilot a quad bike through the native forest with On Yer Bike tours, taste a whitebait fritter, or hike one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, on the wild West Coast.
- Head south west of Canterbury to the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown. Savor award-wining Pinot Noir, sky dive over Middle-earth landscapes and hike one of the most popular walks in the country.
- At the top of the South Island you will find one of New Zealand’s sunniest cities, Nelson. Nelson is a creative hub based in a stunning setting that is every nature lovers’ dream. Kayak through Abel Tasman National Park, cycle through native bush or sit back and relax while enjoying New Zealand’s finest Sauvignon Blanc and fresh seafood.
Previously on The Amazing Race...
New Zealand has featured in four episodes of the major reality TV show The Amazing Race prior to the current season.
It was during season 13 that Phil and the Amazing Race contestants last visited New Zealand shores. During their stay, race competitors made their way from Auckland and Tauranga in the North Island, where along the way they encountered a variety of outlandish challenges, such as a "match the tattoo to the warrior” exercise on Auckland’s Mount Eden and manoeuvring a New Zealand designed Blokart.
Want to see what Phil Keoghan had to say about New Zealand?
Read his exclusive Q&A for newzealand.com here!