Canterbury is a region of spectacular beauty, from the tranquil coastline of Banks Peninsula to the majestic grandeur of the Southern Alps.
Travel through the tunnel to Lyttelton, a port town filled with quirky bars, community projects and a popular Saturday farmer's market. From here the coastal road goes through Governors Bay and on to Charteris Bay Road. Take time to visit the shops and villages you pass along the way. Chocolate lovers will enjoy She Universe Cafe, known for their chocolate creations.
French flair permeates Akaroa village. Street names, restaurants and colourful characters all reflect the town's early French history. Visit the museum and beautifully restored cottages to learn more about this unique settlement.
Along with its French culture, Akaroa is also a great place to encounter dolphins, penguins, and fur seals. Board a nature cruise and meet some of New Zealand's native marine animals. Some cruises will take you swimming with Hector's dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world.
For something uniquely Akaroa, head up the hill to The Giant's House where terraced gardens with sculptures and mosaics are a creative feast.
The main road back to Christchurch takes you through Little River. This charming town, with its small art gallery and cafe, is the perfect place to stop for lunch.
The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s most spectacular short train journeys. From Christchurch, travel west through the expanse of the Canterbury plains and into the foothills of the Southern Alps. Watch the landscape change as you journey over braided rivers and past picturesque lakes to Arthur's Pass National Park.
Arthur's Pass village is a hub for hiking trails. Stop for lunch and enjoy one of the many short walks before re-joining the train as it heads back to Christchurch.
Alternatively, take the full TranzAlpine journey through the Otira Gorge, to Greymouth. Here the train stops for just over for an hour, before heading back to Christchurch, enough time to look around.
Spend your final day exploring Christchurch, the South Island's largest city.
There are plenty of ways to discover the city, catch a heritage tram, hire a bike and cycle around the city centre, or meander down the Avon River aboard an old-fashioned punt. At the city's heart, the botanical gardens and Hagley Park are great for a gentle stroll. For more action, head up to the Port Hills and ride the Crater Rim cycle trail. Christchurch is also a great place for scenic flights whether it's from a helicopter or a Hot air balloon.
Alternatively, spend the day checking out the city's many shopping boutiques and eating precincts.