Inland Scenic Route 72

christchurch-canterbury

Back country scenery as far as the eye can see

6 Days 475 km

Highlights

  • Stargazing in Geraldine
  • Fishing on the Rakaia River
  • Skiing, snow boarding and hiking

Explore the route

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The Inland Scenic Route 72 showcases some of the best of what Canterbury has to offer. Taking in the South Island's largest city, Christchurch/Ōtautahi is home to plenty of beautiful towns. This 6-day itinerary is a great way to discover the Canterbury region.

Day 1: Christchurch to Oxford

christchurch-canterbury

Horse riding and farmstays

Highlights

  • Horse riding in Oxford
  • Farmstays
  • Oxford Forest walking trails

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Begin this journey with a short drive from Christchurch to Oxford, that takes you through the heartland of Canterbury's farming industry.

Around the country town of Oxford, there are farmstays and horse riding adventures. Staying on a farm is the ultimate way to appreciate country life - you can help with daily tasks and enjoy the surroundings.

Oxford Forest is a popular spot for walks and picnics and the Ryde Falls Walk is an easy excursion.

Day 2: Oxford to Methven

christchurch-canterbury

Skiing and walking trails

Highlights

  • Mount Hutt ski field
  • Mount Somers walkway
  • Whitewater rafting

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Your journey into the Southern Alps will depend on the time of the year that you're here.

In winter and spring, Mount Hutt ski field has some of the most reliable snow conditions in New Zealand and the nearby town of Methven, is filled with ski activities.

Once snow levels decline, hiking begins. Make it your mission to complete the Mount Somers Walkway - a ten-hour return trip that takes you to historic coal mines, impressive volcanic formations and a deep river canyon. Climb to the top for spectacular views.

Rakaia Gorge Walkway is a popular jet boating spot, with waterfalls, rapids and amazing alpine scenery. Or try whitewater rafting on the Rangitata River.

Day 3: Methven to Geraldine

christchurch-canterbury

Museums and fishing

Highlights

  • Stargazing
  • Ski fields
  • Arts and crafts

Things to do in Geraldine

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A short drive from Methven is the charming town of Geraldine, which offers clear mountain views, beautiful walks and a vibrant boutique-shopping village. If you're here in winter, Geraldine is a great base for accessing the region's ski fields with eight located within two hours' drive.

The Geraldine Historical Society Museum(opens in new window) and the highly regarded vintage car and machinery museum. Geraldine is also the start of the Starlight Highway which runs through to Lake Tekapo and the International Dark Sky Reserve. Geraldine is home to one of New Zealand's best privately run observatories(opens in new window).

Day 4: Geraldine to Ashburton

christchurch-canterbury

Museums and fishing

Highlights

  • Art and craft galleries
  • Trout and salmon fishing
  • Museums

Things to do in Ashburton

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Make your way to Ashburton, a large town that serves the surrounding farming district. Ashburton sits between two major rivers, so fly-fishing is the local obsession. Both of the nearby rivers are known for salmon and sea-run trout. The average salmon catch is 6 to 8 kilograms, but 15 kilograms isn't out of the question.

If you're a lover of museums, you'll find plenty to do here. Ashburton boasts a total of six museums, including a vintage railway museum, aviation museum and car museum. There are also plenty of local art and craft galleries to browse.

Day 5: Ashburton to Akaroa

christchurch-canterbury

French culture and wildlife encounters

Highlights

  • French cuisine & historic buildings
  • Penguin colony
  • Swim with dolphins

Things to do in Akaroa

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Travel north from Ashburton to the charming seaside town of Akaroa.

The most French town in New Zealand, Akaroa will have you entranced with its historic buildings, magnificent harbour and passion for fine food. Visit local restaurants with their focus on French cuisine and take a self-guided walk to see historic cottages.

Be sure to visit the museum(opens in new window) - it tells the story of Akaroa with displays and an audio-visual presentation.

If you have time, take a harbour cruise to view dolphins, rare penguins and fur seals.

Day 6: Akaroa to Christchurch/Ōtautahi

christchurch-canterbury

Shopping, art, great food & stunning scenery

Highlights

  • Cardboard cathedral
  • Punting on the Avon River/Ōtakaro
  • Botanical gardens

Top 10 things in Christchurch/Ōtautahi

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Once back in Christchurch/Ōtautahi, take the time to find out what makes this ever-evolving city unique. Christchurch/Ōtautahi is brimming with innovativeness and creativity. The city boasts a wide selection of diverse restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs.

And of course Christchurch's iconic activities are still a favourite, showing off its old-English charm. Visit the stunning botanic gardens, enjoy a relaxing punt on the Avon River/Ōtakaro, and ride the historic tram.

View the route below

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