From sweeping plains to soaring mountains, coastline to glacial lakes, the Canterbury region has it all. Check out the top 8 experiences in the region.
After a busy day of sightseeing there’s no better place to relax than Tekapo Springs Hot Pools(opens in new window). Overlooking the beauty of Lake Tekapo and the mountains beyond, the hot pools are fed by alpine springs and heated to 28-40 degrees Celsius. With New Zealand’s largest inflatable waterslide, sauna & steam rooms, fully equipped day spa(opens in new window) and an aqua play area for kids, there’s something here for everyone!
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(opens in new window). Visit Tekapo’s Dark Sky Project(opens in new window) 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.
New Zealand’s largest glacier is accessible on foot, bike or by by boat with experienced guides offering(opens in new window) regular tours. Glacier Explorers take you onto the terminal lake, where you can touch icebergs and learn how the Tasman Glacier was formed. While you’re here, take time to marvel at our tallest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, and explore the national park.
Travelling from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, this 306 km cycle trail(opens in new window) showcases the most dramatic scenery New Zealand has to offer. Bike your way through Aoraki Mt Cook National Park alongside glacial-fed lakes, and on to golden grasslands, limestone cliffs and Maori rock art. This trail suits all abilities, and includes a mixture of off- and on-road trail.
The TranzAlpine(opens in new window) 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.
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.
The village of Akaroa, just 1.5 hours’ drive from Christchurch, is rich in French colonial charm. Ask for a map at the information centre and take a stroll amid historic cottages and gardens before sampling some authentic French cuisine. Akaroa is also abundant in marine life, including one of the smallest dolphins in the world, the Hectors. Head out with Black Cat Cruises(opens in new window) to swim with these playful creatures, or just marvel at them from the comfort of the boat.
Arthur's Pass is the highest route through the Southern Alps, connecting the vast Canterbury plains in the east with the wild and rugged West Coast. Drive this spectacular journey at your own pace, or relax and take the famous TranzAlpine train. Arthur's Pass Village, about 2 hours from Christchurch, is the starting point for hiking and mountaineering adventures into Arthur's Pass National Park. Day trippers enjoy the one hour return walk to the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls.