Begin this journey with a short drive from Christchurch to Oxford that takes you through the heartland of Canterbury's farming industry.
Around the country town of Oxford, there are farmstays and horse riding opportunities. Staying on a farm is the ultimate way to appreciate country life - you can help with daily tasks and enjoy the generous, farmhouse-kitchen hospitality of a local family. Oxford Forest is a popular spot for walks and picnics and the Ryde Falls Walk is an easy excursion.
Your journey into the Southern Alps will depend on the time of the year that you're here.
In winter and spring, Mount Hutt ski field has some of the most reliable snow conditions in New Zealand and the nearby town of Methven, fairly fizzes with après ski activities. Once snow levels recede, hiking begins. Make it your mission to complete the Mount Somers Walkway - a ten-hour return trip that takes you to historic coal mines, impressive volcanic formations and a deep river canyon. Climb to the top for spectacular views.
Rakaia Gorge is a popular jet boating spot with waterfalls, hair-raising rapids and amazing alpine scenery. Or try whitewater rafting on the Rangitata River.
A short drive from Methven is the charming town of Geraldine, which offers clear mountain views, beautiful walks and a vibrant boutique-shopping village. If you're here in winter, Geraldine is a great base for accessing the region's ski fields with eight located within two hours' drive.
Things to do around the town include the Geraldine Historical Society Museum and the highly regarded vintage car and machinery museum. Geraldine is also the start of the Starlight Highway which runs through to Lake Tekapo and the International Dark Sky Reserve. Geraldine is home to one of New Zealand's best privately run observatories.
Today you'll make your way to Ashburton, a large town that serves the surrounding farming district. Ashburton sits between two major rivers, so fly-fishing is the local obsession. Both of the nearby rivers are known for salmon and sea-run trout. The average salmon catch is 6 to 8 kilograms, but 15 kilograms isn't out of the question.
If you're a lover of museums, you'll find plenty to do here, Ashburton boasts a total of six museums, including a vintage railway museum, aviation museum and car museum. There are also plenty of local art and craft galleries to browse.
Travel north from Ashburton to the charming seaside town of Akaroa.
The most French town in New Zealand, Akaroa will have you entranced with its historic buildings, magnificent harbour and passion for fine food. Visit local restaurants with their focus on French cuisine and take a self-guided walk to see historic cottages. Be sure to visit the museum - it tells the story of Akaroa with displays and an audio-visual presentation.
If you have time, take a harbour cruise to view dolphins, rare penguins and fur seals.
Once back in Christchurch, take the time to find out what makes this ever-evolving city unique. Christchurch is brimming with innovativeness and creativity. The city boasts a wide selection of diverse restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs.
And of course Christchurch's iconic activities are still a favourite, showing off its old-English charm. Visit the stunning botanic gardens, enjoy a relaxing punt on the Avon River, and ride the historic tram.
Getting around New Zealand is easy with a great range of transport options available.
There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget and travel style.
No matter the season, the majority of our main attractions are open year-round.
More information on basic costs for accommodation, travel and food.