We love Christchurch, but sometimes, it is nice to get out of the city and explore something new and exciting nearby. Wonderfully, Canterbury and beyond offers some iconic gems to venture around on one of the greatest New Zealand day trips. From scenic drives to exploring new towns, we’ve found something for everyone. Select from these 10 destinations.
Just two hours and 15 minutes from Christchurch, this town has a unique history and is drenched in culture. There are some stunning walkways and beaches, such as Caroline Bay Beach, as well as plenty of tourist attractions like the South Canterbury Museum, to name a few. Interestingly, some of the Victorian and Edwardian buildings were constructed in volcanic bluestone and the town was built on deposits of old lava flows. Certainly, this spot is worth a day trip.
Just three hours drive from Christchurch, this spot makes an epic weekend trip or long day trip. Here, see the Southern Lights and have the most magical stargazing experience. Equally, you can visit the famous Lake Tekapo and The Church Of The Good Shepard with a snowy backdrop. It offers an unforgettable experience. Visit the Tekapo Tourism website for more information.
This popular destination is New Zealand’s first French settlement rich in culture and heritage just one hour and 15 minutes from Christchurch. Head to Akaroa Heritage Park where you will experience surreal views of the sea and be able to embrace the views at Stony Bay Peak, overlooking the bay and town. Alternatively, opt to watch for marine wildlife at the Harbour. Artsy folks and kids will enjoy the Giant’s House, which is a quirky house and garden, full of sculptures, mirrors and mosaics. Read all about it here.
4. Hurunui Region
Just one hour and 15 minutes from Christchurch, immerse yourself in plenty of activities that are adventurous, indulgent and unwinding. Fitness enthusiasts will love the bike trek through the forest by the lake, over the beach and mountains. Meanwhile, others plenty of high country walks or alpine resorts during winter.
5. Mid Canterbury’s Backcountry
Take the scenic route 72 to discover New Zealand’s best kept secret back garden. Delight in the alps, epic walk and bike trails, lakes, endangered birds and majestic views. Likewise, the swing bridge walk was the location of Edoras in the Lord Of The Rings movies. If you’ve got extra funds, take a hot air balloon flight for the most pleasurable experience. Rakaia Gorge River Walking Track is another spot tourists love to explore. Indeed, one of the best day trips from Christchurch.
Experience the magic of marine wildlife encounters like dolphins, seals and orcas, and specifically giant sperm whales. Just two hours and 20 minutes drive from Christchurch, this incredible coastal town offers plenty of fishing, shopping, delicious food indulgences like crayfish and fantastic hikes like Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Spoil yourself some weekend soon to this wonderful day trip.
7. Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs is just a short drive from Christchurch, and offers the perfect weekend escape or day trip. Read all about it here.
8. Banks Peninsula
Drive one hour and 19 minutes to be surrounded by the ocean amongst hilltops. If it’s not too cold, take on some thrilling adventures such as paragliding, cycling and kayaking. Peer your eyes for unique hector dolphins, walk the extensive coastline and volcanic landscape and more. If you have extra cash, why not splash it on an overnight stay in a luxurious seaside cottage offering you stunning views all year around. Indeed, one of the most epic day trips from Christchurch.
9. Arthur’s Pass
Drive one hour and 55 minutes to Arthur’s Pass National Park or else opt for the most picturesque train journey in the world via the TranzAlpine train. Based at the highest point of the Southern Alps, it makes an iconic day trip for both adults and kids alike. Excitingly, there’s other fun activities to avail of such as mountain climbing and trail trekking. For train tickets, visit The Great Journeys Of New Zealand website.
Why not take a three hour drive to the west coast for a change of scenery? From History House Museum, the 19th century Shantytown Heritage Park, gold mining at the Coal Miners Memorial and historical jade hunting and much more…you’ll be spoilt for options.