Glistening ski slopes, temperate hot pools, wining and dining by an open fire are all hallmarks of an awesome autumn or winter holiday in our own glorious country. You don’t even need to stray far from home with a bounty of activities and attractions within easy reach of Christchurch. The following pages list some of Metropol’s top picks for your next South Island staycation.
Christchurch is such a central South Island location that like the tentacles of an octopus, many roads lead out of it to exciting destinations within a short driving span. Half a day’s drive will take you to Nelson Tasman, Marlborough, the West Coast, Central Otago and Southland. A few less and you can be in Akaroa, Hanmer Springs or Kaikoura in time for morning tea if you depart early enough.
As a region, Canterbury has so much to offer all ages and budgets. For skiers there are 24 ski fields within easy reach. For hikers and bikers there are plenty of trails to head out on, foodies and wine buffs are spoilt for choice and so too are couples looking for a romantic get-away. Canterbury and its surrounding environs are indeed your oyster!
Canterbury’s Waimakariri and Hurunui districts are located between Christchurch and Kaikoura and across to Hanmer Springs. This North Canterbury region serves up the full menu of New Zealand attractions. Meet the people putting the region on New Zealand’s wine and food map, take in the panoramic views, cycle or walk the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, let your hair loose on a jetboat, cast your rod and catch your dinner, carve up the wild surf if you dare, or schuss down a pristine piste. It’s all there for the doing!
Home to rare Hector’s dolphins, Akaroa is southeast of Christchurch. The area boasts its own beach on the eastern shore of Akaroa Harbour, a museum where visitors and locals can read about the town’s development, especially its 19th-Century British and French colonial history, and many exciting excursion opportunities.
Take the car, head out on a cycle trail, hop on a sightseeing boat or a sea kayak or even opt for a scenic helicopter flight around Akaroa; it’s all ready and waiting for you. Some tour operators even leave from Christchurch, making it much easier to explore this seaside town.
Top of the south
North of Kaikoura lie Marlborough and Nelson Tasman. Home to vineyard eateries and cellar doors, boutique brewers and gourmet restaurants, the Top of the South is a cornucopia for foodies. Activities abound including cycling the wine trails, hiring a boat and heading out into the picturesque Marlborough Sounds, taking a charter cruise, a ride in an historic airplane or visiting the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Other activities include exploring Abel Tasman National Park and scenic Golden Bay, skydiving over two islands, experiencing a white-water rush or taking a trip down memory lane at Nelson’s Classic Car Museum.