Top 10 Day Trips from Christchurch

Venture from the Ocean to the Alps in less than two hours by car.

One of the beauties of the Canterbury region is the huge range of sights and activities you can experience without having to travel far at all.

1. Kaikoura
2.5 hour drive from Christchurch via SH1.
In this nature-lovers’ paradise, you can encounter majestic whales, dolphins, fur seals and giant albatross by boat, helicopter or plane. Learn about ancient indigenous customs on a Maori cultural tour. And you simply must try some succulent local seafood – at a restaurant, a seaside fish and chip picnic, or an iconic crayfish caravan.

2. Arthur’s Pass
2 hour drive from Christchurch via SH73.
Spend a day in magical natural New Zealand, with towering rocky mountains, steep gorges, rushing rivers and waterfalls, and lush native bush. Get out and explore however you like – there are short gentle strolls right through to mountain summit crusades, and scenic mountain bike trails.

3. Hanmer Springs
1.5 hour drive from Christchurch via SH7
Take in wine tasting in the Waipara Valley, before heading to this beautiful alpine setting, for a soothing soak in the thermal pools, and a relaxing spa treatment. Or perhaps head out for a nature walk, some mountain biking, a jet boat ride, or a bungy jump? Cafés and restaurants are on hand to refuel.

4. Waipara Valley
1 hour drive from Christchurch via SH1.
Spend a leisurely day exploring this world-renowned wine producing area. Enjoy cellar door tastings, and see how the landscape, soil and microclimate come together here with some magic from winemakers. Savour superb Canterbury cuisine matched with a local drop at a vineyard restaurant.

5. Oxford
50 minute drive from Christchurch via Tram Rd.
Take the Inland Scenic Route 72 to this tranquil rural township. Then relax with great coffee and freshly made food. Browse the speciality shops, or explore the beautiful Oxford Forest or Ashley Gorge nearby – by foot or mountain bike.

6. Akaroa
1 hour drive from Christchurch via SH75.
Enjoy the stunning scenic drive over to Banks Peninsula, then immerse yourself in the French charm of this picturesque seaside settlement. Wander through boutique stores and galleries, and relax over a leisurely café lunch and a local drop. Board a cruise to see rare and spectacular wildlife – and even swim with them if you like.

7. Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour
45 minute drive from Christchurch vis Dyers Pass Rd.
Head through the tunnel to explore the portside town of Lyttelton, then take in the views of the scenic harbour, stopping at Orton Bradley Farm Park. Head to Diamond Harbour by ferry or car, enjoy a stroll and a picnic in the cliff tops and beaches, or perhaps a swim, sea kayak or mountain bike.

8. Methven
1 hour drive from Christchurch via SH1.
Play golf at a world-class course against a spectacular backdrop, or relax and unwind at the resort’s day spa, or restaurants with a stellar view. Head out on a nature walk, whizz down the Rakaia River by jet boat, or take to the skies in a hot air balloon or tandem skydive. In winter, hit the slopes, and enjoy a lively après ski scene.

9. South Canterbury Magic
2 hour drive from Christchurch via SH1.
Savour gourmet delights in pretty Geraldine, and perhaps pack a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful Talbot or Peel Forest areas close by. Fascinating museums are plentiful in these parts, and Timaru boasts an impressive innovative art gallery. Enjoy some local hospitality with a meal overlooking picturesque Caroline Bay and the Southern Alps, and check out the famous pottery in Temuka.

10. Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
3.5 hour drive from Christchurch via SH8.
Take in the beautiful vistas on the drive here, past dazzling Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. Then experience this spectacular alpine environment and marvel at New Zealand’s highest peak – Aoraki Mt Cook – with a walk, scenic flight, or a glacier trip from Mt Cook Village. Save some time for The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, with an amazing 3D movie, a digital Planetarium and a museum.

Text by ChristchurchNZ Tourism Media | photos courtesy of

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