Relax in natural hot springs in Hanmer, sit and stargaze at Aoraki/Mackenzie International Dark Night Sky Reserve or experience the TranzAlpine journey through the Southern Alps when visiting the Canterbury region.
Leaving from Mount Cook (Aoraki), New Zealand’s tallest mountain, the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail takes cyclists on a 300km scenic journey past alpine lakes, rivers and leads to the Pacific Ocean. The easy-intermediate grade trail can be completed over four days or can be accessed from numerous points for day excursions or guided tours.
The majestic turquoise colour of Lake Tekapo creates a striking landscape when combined with the dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps. The milky-turquoise colour of the lake comes from fine rock-flour suspended in the water. For the perfect sunset setting, secure your spot in at Tekapo Springs Hot Pools which overlook the lake and surrounding mountain range.
As the world’s largest gold status International Dark Sky Reserve, Aoraki-Mackenzie offers more than 4,300 square kilometres free of light pollution making it the perfect spot for stargazing. Visit Tekapo’s Dark Sky Project who offer a range of stargazing and astronomy experiences including the renowned Mt John Observatory research facility and the new daytime Dark Sky Experience which combines science and Māori astronomy.
With creativity and innovation blossoming among urban regeneration, Christchurch is a unique destination. Hop on the restored heritage tram and learn about the local landmarks from your knowledgable driver before stopping at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, the Avon River or the Canterbury Museum.
Explore the ancient landscapes of the Southern Alps along the Hooker Valley Track. Walk the 10km track in the shadow of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, following the natural course carved out by the Hooker River. If you’re lucky you will spot the Mount Cook buttercup. Native to New Zealand it's the largest buttercup species in the world.
Only 90 minutes drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs offers the perfect balance of fun and relaxation, with different levels of thrills on the waterslides, and a selection of hot pools including aqua therapy, hexagonal pools, rock pools and sulphur pools - leaving you feel relaxed and refreshed.
One hour north of Christchurch you’ll find fields of lavender, olive groves, and more than 60 vineyards, with dozens of cellar doors open for wine tasting. Waipara is well known for its pinot noir and reisling, and also provides some fine pinot gris, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. If you prefer to let someone else do the driving, book a winery tour from Christchurch.
Visit the Mount Hutt ski field during the winter to enjoy panoramic views and slopes perfect for all ages and abilities. For those new to skiing you can take advantage of expert instructors who run regular private and group lessons.
The TranzAlpine journey through the Southern Alps is one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Beginning in Christchurch, you’ll travel through the patchwork Canterbury Plains up into Arthur’s Pass National Park. From here, you’ll venture down into the wild beech forests of the West Coast, finishing in Greymouth. The trip takes four hours one way, or nine hours return with a one-hour break in Greymouth.
Make sure your South Island tour includes Christchurch, a vibrant city with a thriving arts scene and excellent collection of quirky bars. Explore the city on a vintage bike or heritage tram. Or let someone else do the work with a punting experience on the Avon River. For an inner-city reprieve visit the award-winning Botanic Gardens or head to Port Hills to escape the city.