Canterbury stargazing and lakes itinerary

4 Days 750 km


  • Christchurch City
  • New Zealand's longest Glacier
  • Stargazing at Lake Tekapo



Explore the beauty and excitement of Christchurch, South Canterbury and the Mackenzie region on this 4-day itinerary. Your journey begins in funky Christchurch and takes you through the rural settlements of Ashburton, Timaru and Waimate.

Visit New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook, and enjoy stargazing at Lake Tekapo, then head back to Christchurch via Geraldine and Methven.

Day 1: Christchurch to Waimate

Christchurch - Canterbury
Port Hills, Christchurch - Canterbury


  • Explore the Port Hills
  • Explore beautiful gardens
  • Te Ana Maori Rock Art centre



Beautiful landscapes, Edwardian architecture and wild wallabies.

Read more

Depart Christchurch and journey across the patchwork quilt of the Canterbury Plains. Take the time to explore the bustling farming town of Ashburton. If gardens are your thing, you can’t miss Trots Garden, selected as a Garden of National Significance by The Royal Institute of Horticulture.

Timaru is a great place to stop for lunch. Take time to visit the tranquil Botanical Gardens and blooms at the Trevor Griffiths Rose Gardens.  The Te Ana Maori Rock Art centre is also well worth a visit. Enjoy an afternoon's stroll through native forest in Waimate, where songs of the bellbird and tui will accompany you. At dusk keep an eye out for the famous Waimate Wallaby.

Book now

Day 2: Waimate to Aoraki Mount Cook

Christchurch - Canterbury
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, Christchurch - Canterbury


  • Explore Tasman Glacier by boat
  • New Zealand's highest mountain
  • Hooker Valley hiking trails



Beautiful lakes, glaciers and New Zealand's highest mountain.

Read more

Take the inland route, through to Twizel this morning. Here, anglers might like to stop for a spot of salmon fishing. Visit the Kaki/Black Stilt Visitor Hide, where between September and February you can learn about the world’s most endangered wading bird.

Continue past the turquoise shores of Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook Village. There are numerous ways to explore Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, whether you want the thrill of an Argo tour, a short walk, long tramp or horse ride. Don't miss the Glacier Explorers, which take you to the terminal lake of New Zealand’s longest glacier, Tasman Glacier. 

The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and the stargazing experience(opens in new window) are also popular.

Day 3: Aoraki Mount Cook to Lake Tekapo

Christchurch - Canterbury
Lake Tekapo/Takapō, Christchurch - Canterbury


  • Stargazing on Mount John
  • Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Thermal hot pools



With clear, dark skies, New Zealand is one of best places for stargazing.

Read more

In Lake Tekapo, you'll find a plethora of activities to entertain you, whether it's a chilly winter evening or a sparkling summer day. Take a dip in the hot pools or relax with one of the therapeutic spa treatments. During winter, an ice skating rink and snow tubing are available, while in summer you can enjoy the world’s largest inflatable slide.

For something truly special, take a scenic flight over the Southern Alps, glaciers and the Main Divide. Some operators even land on a glacier. No trip to the Mackenzie region is complete without a stargazing tour. As the world's largest International Dark Sky Reserve, this is the perfect place to see the night sky.

Day 4: Lake Tekapo to Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Punting on the Avon River, Christchurch - Canterbury


Stretches from Alps to the ocean


  • Punting on the Avon River
  • Quirky cafes, restaurants and bars
  • Street Art and heritage trams


Travel back to Christchurch via Geraldine and Methven. Geraldine is home to the famous Barkers of Geraldine, a store offering delicious jams, chutneys and syrups; try a sample or buy a gift pack to take home. With Mount Hutt on its doorstep, the town of Methven is a hub of activity in winter (June-October), but it also offers fantastic biking and hiking options in summer.

Christchurch is brimming with innovativeness and creativity. The city boasts an array of diverse restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs along with its iconic activities. Visit the beautiful botanic gardens, enjoy a relaxing punt on the Avon River, and ride the historic tram.

View the route below

You may also be interested in...