Christchurch Regional Overview
The Canterbury region is one of contrasting natural beauty and vibrant city life. Two national parks, the Canterbury plains, eye-catching turquoise lakes, beautiful sandy beaches, pretty coastal villages, whale watching, and the 'garden city' of Christchurch are all waiting to be discovered.
Canterbury is the largest region in New Zealand with over 45,000sqkm. It's the second most populated region (after Auckland) in the country with approximately 560,000 residents.
Christchurch is the focal point of the region with beautiful open green spaces and the stunning River Avon. Head east for 90 minutes and you'll reach the picturesque Banks Peninsula and the french influenced harbour town of Akaroa. Travelling south, brings you to the coast town of Timaru, while inwards the town of Geraldine is full of craft shops and cafes.
A few hours drive south-west is Mount Cook National Park, home to 19 of New Zealand highest mountain peaks. To the west, lies the majestic beauty of Arthur's Pass National Park and a popular spot for hikers. To the North, the whale watching and seal colony attracts visitors to the coastal town of Kaikoura, while Hanmer Springs is renowned for its spa and hot pools.
Christchurch - Garden City & Punting
The largest city of the South Island, Christchurch is also New Zealand's oldest, having been granted its Royal Charter in 1856. Known as the ‘Garden City’, for its high percentage of green areas, Christchurch has the feel of an old, English city, thanks to the ambitions of settlers who wanted to recreate the similarly-named area of Oxford.
Highlights include punting along the River Avon, visiting the botanical gardens, taking a stroll around Hagley Park, shopping in the new Re:START mall and visiting the beaches of Sumner and New Brighton.
On 22nd February 2011, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale, struck central Christchurch, killing an estimated 200 people and injuring thousands more. Despite the earthquakes, Christchurch remains a resilient city of expansive parks, botanical gardens and gorgeous beaches.
A 90 minute drive east brings you to the Banks Peninsula and the jewel in the crown, Akaroa. This French influenced town is full of charm with its pretty harbour setting and quaint streets, french colonial buildings and numerous cafes. There's also plenty of opportunities to leave the harbour and explore the region by boat.
Arthur's Pass National Park
Established in 1929, Arthur's Pass National Park is situated between Canterbury and the West Coast. Dominated by the spectacular Southern Alps, the park is a haven for trampers and mountain climbers. The village of Arthur's Pass itself, provides a handy base for those who want to take their time exploring this wild landscape.Kaikoura
180km north of Christchurch, Kaikoura is a pretty coastal town famous for its whaling station and abundant marine life. With mountains that very nearly reach to the ocean, the town is a popular place to catch some sea air, with a number of boating excursions available.
65kms southwest from Kaikoura, the town of Hanmer Springs is, as its name suggests, built around a natural hot spring that now includes an extended hot pools complex. Come here if you want to really unwind - and get really wet!
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook sits in the national park of the same name and is part of the Te Wahipounamu world heritage area.
All but one of New Zealand's 3000m high peaks lie in the park, making it an obvious attraction for mountaineers and experienced hikers. As you approach the park you’ll discover the dramatic highland landscape and picture postcard views of Lake Pukaki. Less and 30 minutes drive away are the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and a renowned stargazing spot.
Check our 'Things To Do' section to see details of the activites on offer in Christchurch and the Canterbury region.