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.
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.
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.
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.
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.