Funky Christchurch city and the vast Canterbury region have plenty to keep you busy, whether you're a shopaholic, wild adventurer or history buff.

Christchurch - Canterbury
Lyttelton Market, Christchurch - Canterbury

Explore the ever-changing city of Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Port Hills, Christchurch - Canterbury

Get close to nature, close to the city

  • Driving, walking or cycling in the Port Hills for fantastic views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour. Check the Christchurch City Council website(opens in new window) for up-to-date information on tracks access and safety.
  • Willowbank Wildlife Reserve has a kiwi breeding programme and native New Zealand bird life.
  • At Orana Wildlife Park you can experience the diverse splendour of the animal kingdom in tranquil, spacious surroundings.
  • Ride the Waimakariri river in a jet boat; pickups are available from Christchurch City. 
Christchurch - Canterbury
Swimming with dolphins, Christchurch - Canterbury

A day or two around Banks Peninsula

Around 10 million years ago, the Banks Peninsula area was a very active volcanic island. The two main volcanic vents are now Akaroa and Lyttelton harbours.

  • Get a taste of the French colonial past in Akaroa - picturesque, charming and a haven for artists and crafts people, with a highly developed culinary culture. Fresh local ingredients include salmon, crayfish, beef, Canterbury lamb and venison.
  • See New Zealand's rarest dolphin - the Hector's dolphin - on a wildlife cruise of Akaroa Harbour.
  • Take a alpaca farm tour and get close to these loving animals. 
  • Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Pay a visit to the 'Giant's House(opens in new window)' and judge for yourself. It's provocative, different and fun!
  • Explore the historic port town of Lyttelton, offering a bubbling mix of restaurants, cafes and shops, with a farmers market each Saturday. 
  • Escape to Quail Island with a packed lunch and enjoy a tranquil afternoon with bird songs.
Christchurch - Canterbury
Hanmer Springs Hot Pools, Christchurch - Canterbury

The Waipara Wine Valley and Hanmer Springs

Head north from Christchurch to the start of the Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Route. Here you will find delicious food and wine, hot pools and all kinds of outdoorsy activities.

  • Discover the fabulous array of award winning wineries in the Waipara Valley. Home to over 90 wineries, 10 cellar doors and 4 winery restaurants it is a premier wine growing region.
  • Ride the Weka Pass historic railway(opens in new window) from Waipara to Waikari.
  • Discover heritage icons such as Māori rock art, historic hotels and cob cottages.
  • Soak in the hot thermal pools at Hanmer Springs Thermal & Spa, enjoy a relaxing treatment or have fun on the SuperBowl aquatic thrill ride.
  • Hike or bike through 50km of fantastic forest trails in Hanmer Springs.
  • Go jet boating or rafting on the Waiau River with Hanmer Springs Attractions.
  • Ski at Mount Lyford or Hanmer Springs Ski Area.
  • Visit beautiful Gore Bay and the Cathedral Cliffs.
  • Fish for trout and salmon in pristine waters.
Christchurch - Canterbury
Whales in Kaikōura, Christchurch - Canterbury

Have a whale of a time in Kaikōura

A variety of rare marine mammals converge off the coast at Kaikōura - sperm whales, dolphins and penguins.

  • Go whale-watching by boat or air at any time of the year.
  • Meet the local dolphins on a dolphin encounter.
  • Take a bird watching tour to view seabirds, albatross, molly-mawks, petrels and many more.
  • Hike the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway - three hours return to visit a seal colony, limestone formations and a seabird colony.
  • Visit Fyffe House, a colonial whaler's cottage.
  • Experience genuine indigenous Māori culture, history, traditions and hospitality with Māori Tours Kaikōura(opens in new window).
  • Eat fresh seafood in one of Kaikōura's delightful waterfront restaurants, or take the more casual approach and visit one of the Seafood BBQs, located right on the beach front.
Christchurch - Canterbury
Star gazing, Christchurch - Canterbury

Enjoy the high life in Mackenzie

From the stunning turquoise of the lakes to the true splendor of New Zealand’s tallest mountain (Aoraki Mount Cook), the Mackenzie district has more than beauty to offer visitors. 

  • Visit the postcard-perfect living Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo - its altar window frames an amazing view of the Southern Alps.
  • Take a scenic flight from Lake Tekapo or Glentanner Station for breathtaking views over the Southern Alps, the West Coast Glaciers and of course the magnificent Aoraki Mount Cook.
  • Land on the Tasman Glacier in a ski-plane, or go heli-skiing amidst the tranquillity and silence of the pristine alpine environment.
  • Try Tubing at Tekapo Springs which has New Zealand's first summer tube ride, making tubing a year round attraction in Lake Tekapo. Or simply relax in the hot pools and enjoy the stunning views over the lake.
  • Explore the Tasman Glacier terminal lake and icebergs up close with Glacier Explorers. This is the only tour of its kind in New Zealand.
  • If you've always wanted to try mountain climbing, hire a guide and give it a go. Sir Edmund Hillary practised on these mountains before he conquered Mount Everest.
  • Visit Mt Cook Alpine Salmon Farm halfway between Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Here you can see what makes their salmon so special as well as sampling the Saikou Sushi grade salmon.
  • Don’t miss stargazing in the Mackenzie Basin which has been designated the largest International Dark Sky Reserve in the world.
  • Explore Aoraki Mount Cook National Park on a mountain walk - there are many to choose from. In spring and summer, look for the Mount Cook lily - the largest buttercup in the world.
Christchurch - Canterbury
Waimakariri River, Christchurch - Canterbury

History and adventure in South Canterbury

A self-drive tour of South Canterbury delivers the perfect balance of natural, historical and indulgent experiences.

  • The area has the largest collection of Māori Rock Art in New Zealand. Head for Raincliff near the confluence of the Opihi and Opuha Rivers.
  • In Timaru you'll find an impressive collection of preserved urban Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
  • Go rafting on the Rangitata River and launch yourself down the thrilling grade five rapids.
  • The Pleasant Point Railway(opens in new window) is home to the world's only Ford Model T Railcar. The railway society has regular steaming days.
  • See the filming location of Edoras, the fortress city of the Rohan people in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
  • Go walking or biking on the Waimate Walkway(opens in new window), then visit 'The Cuddy' - a thatched house built in 1854.
Christchurch - Canterbury
Tranz Alpine Train, Christchurch - Canterbury

A world of rock and rivers in Mid Canterbury and Selwyn

Between the peaks of the Southern Alps and the city sophistication of Christchurch, there's a lot of room for wild times in Canterbury.

  • Enjoy one of the six most spectacular train journeys in the world - the stunningly scenic TranzAlpine Express journey to Arthur's Pass.
  • Discover some of the best river fishing in New Zealand - hire a guide or ask the locals where to go. The Rakaia River is renowned for its salmon fishing in February and March.
  • See unique and rare wildlife and learn about geology, history and conservation on a high country eco tour.
  • Hike the trails around Arthur's Pass - discover waterfalls and alpine plants.
  • Make the most of the longest ski season in Australasia at Mt Hutt.
  • Get away from it all in a hot air balloon. Drift over the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

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