Inspiring Views Around Christchurch
Arguably the best view of sunset in Christchurch is from the Port Hills
After the thousands of earthquakes that have struck Christchurch, you’d be forgiven for thinking that many of the best views are gone. But after spending some time exploring the city and surrounding area you’ll see that it still has some of the best views in New Zealand.
In Christchurch you never have to go far to find a good view of the beach. Some of the best can be found within a twenty minute drive, so pack a picnic, grab your jandals and don’t forget the sunscreen.
Head to New Brighton, where you’ll find the New Brighton Pier. This 300 metre long pier is popular with both fishermen and families, and offers a windy view over the water. Stop in at Salt on the Pier which is located at the pier terminus on Marine Parade in New Brighton. Here you can relax and enjoy views of both the pier and the pacific, so either grab lunch or visit during happy hour where you’ll find $6 beer and wine between 4.00 and 6.00pm on Thursday or Friday.
Take a drive to Corsair Bay in Lyttelton Harbour which is a secluded little beach. For a stunning view of Taylor’s Mistake and Whitewash Head make your way to Scarborough Hill, or grab some fish and chips and enjoy them on the beach in Sumner.
Arguably the best view of sunset in Christchurch is from the Port Hills. Drive along Summit Road and stop at the Sign of the Bellbird.
On Dyers Pass road you’ll find the Sign of the Kiwi which is also a fantastic place to view the sunset, and often you’ll see the red, pink, and purples that are so prevalent in Christchurch.
The Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park are both well worth a walk, and if you’ve got a few hours on a sunny afternoon, go for a kayak down the Avon River. Bottle Lake Forest is a great place to go horse riding, or simply take a stroll and enjoy the many marked paths. For a relaxing day with the kids, take a picnic to The Groynes where you can lounge under a shady tree and watch the dogs in the dog park.
For those who like to fish, head an hour south from Christchurch. The Rakaia River is the best river for salmon fishing in the South Island, so make sure you visit in February or March before getting a photo with the giant fiberglass salmon in the local park.
For a cup of coffee with a view, head to Cup Café which is on 127 Hackthorne Road in Cashmere. From here, it’s only a five minute drive to Victoria Park, where you’ll find a panoramic view of the city. Located at the end of Colombo Street, gates open at 7.30 am so get there early to beat the crowds and make sure you bring your camera.
The Christchurch Gondola has now reopened, so take a ride in one of the new cable cars from the base station in Heathcote Valley to the summit station at the top of Mt Cavendish. The trip takes around ten minutes and you’ll be treated to views of the city, Southern Alps, Canterbury Plains and Lyttelton harbour.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children aged five to fifteen, and under-fives are free. While the walking and mountain bike tracks at the top have not yet been reopened, there are plenty of viewing galleries outdoors.
One of the best views of the mountains can be found from the John Britten Reserve on Summit road in Mt Pleasant.
If you have a day or two, take the Tranz Alpine from Christchurch to Greymouth for views of the Southern Alps, the Waimakiriri River Gorge, and Arthurs Pass. Grab a seat on the right side of the train on the way there for the best views, and make sure you spend some time in the open-air viewing platform for some spectacular photo opportunities.
The ride takes four and a half hours. From Greymouth, it’s just over two hours drive along the wild and untamed West Coast to the spectacular Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, a further 30 minutes drive. Tranz Alpine tickets start at $119 one-way, or $199 for a same-day return ticket.
To view New Zealand’s highest mountain, head to Mount Cook National Park. Located four hours from Christchurch and one of the best places to take a scenic flight over the pristine alpine environment, you’ll also find glaciers, hiking trails and many different native species of birds and plants within the park.
Orana Wildlife Park is a “zoo with a difference”, and instead of small enclosures you’ll find the animals enjoying 80 hectares of land. Orana is the Maori word for place of refuge, or welcome, which is fitting as the park is a sanctuary for endangered animals. Located close to the airport on Mcleans Island road, the park is open from 10.00am until 5.00pm every day except Christmas day. Tickets are free for under-fives, $8 for children and $25 for adults.
Kaikoura is two and a half hours North of Christchurch, and this small, coastal town is the perfect place to enjoy some of New Zealand’s renowned wildlife. Spend some time watching the Southern Fur Seals and swimming with the dolphins before enjoying some of the seafood that the town is known for. Kaikoura is also famous for whale watching, and the giant Sperm Whales are in the area throughout the year.
If you’re short on time and you want to almost guarantee whale sightings, take a tour with Whale Watch Kaikoura Ltd. With a 95% success rate and 25 years of experience, these guys are the experts when it comes to whale watching in Kaikoura. Tickets are $145 for adults and $60 for children.
Settled by the English, French and Maori, Akaroa is situated on a harbour and surrounded by bays. The town is home to the Hector dolphins which are some of the smallest dolphins in the world. These cute little dolphins love the shallow water so if you’re lucky you’ll get to see them playing in the sea.