Things to do outside of Christchurch

Exploring the Canterbury region

Framed by the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps, the Canterbury region offers a vast range of breathtaking landscapes. There’s something new and unexpected around every corner in Canterbury, with many gems within only a few hours’ drive of Christchurch.

We’ve put together our top must-see attractions from the Canterbury region to help you get out there and make the most of your time in the region.

Akaroa

The scenic 1.5 hours’ drive to Akaroa passes the protected wildlife area of Lake Ellesmere and the rugged pebbled beach of Birdlings Flat. Akaroa’s French origins are embraced with French street names, colonial architecture and gorgeous boutique shopping. Jump on board with award-winning Black Cat Cruises for a nature cruise around Akaroa Harbour. Experience New Zealand ’s
largest Little Blue Penguin colony before heading to Shamarra Alpacas for an interactive farm tour whilst taking in the incredible views.

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Hanmer Springs

Just 90 minutes north of Christchurch, a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation awaits you. A range of activities are on offer with Hanmer Springs Attractions such as jet boating, bungy, quad biking and rafting. If you prefer a more relaxed pace, wander the boutique shops, grab a bite to eat, then enjoy a relaxing soak or spa treatment at the world-renowned Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa.

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Kaikōura

A little over 2 hours from Christchurch, the picturesque coastal town of Kaikōura is the perfect place for marine life encounters, coastal walks, and tucking into a plate of crayfish. A variety of marine mammals converge off the coast at Kaikoura – sperm whales, New Zealand fur seals, dolphins and penguins. Another highlight of Kaikōura is the Peninsula Walkway – three hours return to visit a seal colony, limestone formations and a seabird colony.

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Kura Tāwhiti Conservation Area

The grand limestone rock battlements of Kura Tāwhiti led early European travellers to name the area Castle Hill. Climbers, families, students, scientists and travelers have always been drawn to this spectacular place, to explore its natural, cultural, historic and recreation values. Traveling West of Christchurch, towards the beautiful Southern Alps, your journey will take 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach the conservation area.
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Fable Terrace Downs Resort

Nestled in the shadow of the picturesque Southern Alps, invigorating natural beauty surrounds each luxurious villas, designed with ultimate comfort and relaxation in mind. Fable Terrace Downs offers golfers the opportunity to play a unique high country 18-hole championship golf course. The rewarding par 72 course offers a choice of four tees on each hole. The spectacular views pose a constant challenge for players to keep their eye on the ball!

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Rakaia Gorge Discovery Jet

You’ll need to hang on tight as the driver skillfully weaves the jet boat through the intricate network of braided river channels, skimming along stony banks and through gushing opalescent blue waters rich with salmon and trout. As you journey through the gorge, the wind ripping through your hair and water spraying with every carefully-calculated twist and turn, soak in the dramatic scenery. The trip to Rakaia Gorge will take approximately 60minutes from Christchurch

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Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa

Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa is the latest wellness destination in Methven Canterbury, just an hour out of Christchurch City. Visiting the hot pools would be a wonderful way to finish your day after skiing or snow-boarding at Mt Hutt

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Waipara Valley Wineries

One hour north of Christchurch you’ll find fields of lavender, olive groves and more than 90 vineyards. Dozens of cellar doors welcome you to exquisite wine tastings in the Waipara Valley. Rent a bike or hop on one of the many winery tours to explore this region’s bounty.

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Mt Hutt Ski Area
Mt Hutt is Canterbury’s own “big mountain” and is conveniently located only 1 hour 40 minutes West of Christchurch. Voted New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort 2015 – 2021 and attracting people from all over the world. The summit 6 seat high-speed chairlift takes you to the highest point of any ski area in the South Island. Then when your day on the slopes is done, you can relax at the local eateries and pubs in Methven.
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Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is about three hours drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing.

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Aoraki/Mount Cook Village 

Located 4 hours from Christchurch, the village is at the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook. This dazzling peak, known to Māori as Aoraki or Cloud Piercer, is one of 28 mountains in this alpine backbone which peak at over 3,050 metres, and hundreds of others not far short of that all making up the famous Southern Alps. Ways to explore include enjoying a 4WD safari, boating on the glacier lakes, fishing, scenic flights with snow landings and numerous walks and hikes for all ages and abilities.

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