Wherever you end up in New Zealand, you can always be certain a new adventure is right on your doorstep. Such is the case for those exploring its third-largest city, Christchurch, which is surrounded by an interesting blend of coastlines and alpine landscapes. To inspire you to venture across the wider Canterbury region, here are 10 day trip destinations you should definitely add to your must-visit list.
Lyttelton is a port town at the north-eastern end of the Banks Peninsula. A tunnel through the Port Hills provides direct access from Lyttelton to Christchurch, a handy 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) away. If you’re visiting on a weekend, definitely keep your eyes peeled for the local markets. Otherwise, make the most of the town’s expansive harbour views and embrace the colourful shops and cafes that surround you.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement 75 kilometres (46.6 miles) from Christchurch. A scenic one-hour drive over the Banks Peninsula will lead you to this charming little town. Wander the streets to see the remnants of its French colonial past come to life. If you’re feeling adventurous, go on a four-wheel drive tour around Flea Bay – home to the region’s largest penguin colony. Alternatively, board a cruise to get a glimpse of the local marine wildlife – if you’re lucky, you might spot a rare gem like the Hector’s Dolphin.
Kaikoura is a majestic seaside town situated 180 kilometres (112 miles) from Christchurch. It is the northernmost settlement in the Canterbury region, and famous for its natural beauty. A two and a half hour’s drive to Kaikoura will enable nature lovers to encounter whales, dolphins, fur seal colonies and albatrosses as they explore the seaside. If you’re wanting to get a hiking fix, Mount Fyffe and the Puhi Puhi Reserve are some of the best spots to visit.
An alpine village and national park nestled right at the heart of the Southern Alps, just under 150 kilometres (93.2 miles) from your departure point. More specifically, you’ll find it in the midst of the road that connects Greymouth to Christchurch, at an approximate two hours’ distance from the latter. Steep gorges, rushing rivers, lavish waterfalls, rocky mountains and lush forestry are some of the attractions you’ll get to see on a single visit. The inquisitive kea – a native bird known for its mischievous nature – also resides among this diverse alpine setting.
Hanmer Springs is the ideal place to unwind. The small town is located just an hour and a half from Christchurch and is particularly renowned for its namesake thermal pools. These famed natural wonders were carved out of a fractured rock bed along the Hanmer fault. If you’re not one for soaking up the spas, there’s plenty of action to keep you busy – popular tourist attractions in the area include jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking and bush walking.
A world-renowned wine producing area that is within an hour’s driving distance from Christchurch. The Waipara Valley vineyards in the North Canterbury region are best known for pinot noir and riesling varietals. Spend the day savouring the tastings, familiarising yourself with the local cuisine and getting to know the area’s interesting micro-climate and wondrous landscapes.
Part of the Waimakariri District, Oxford is a small town tucked by the foothills of the Southern Alps. Enjoy an incredibly picturesque 45-minute drive as you close in on the aptly named, English-style rural village. The surrounding mountains and gorges are definitely worth exploring if you’re a keen hiker or cyclist – popular tracks and reserves include Pearson Park, Ashley Gorge Park and the Ryde Falls Track. For a relaxed day, spend some time browsing Oxford’s exquisite boutique shops, cafés and eateries.
A one-hour drive from Christchurch via State Highway 1 will lead you to the town of Methven. This area is quite a hit among skiers heading to Mount Hutt – and is rife with activity throughout the winter season. Aside from getting your après-ski fix, Methven is a good place for a day spa, golfing, hot-air balloon rides, or an adrenaline hit with a jet boat ride down the Rakaia River.
Geraldine is an artsy country town in the Canterbury region. A two-hour, 140-kilometre (87-mile) drive south of Christchurch will reward you with plenty of interesting sights and attractions. From the township’s unique arts and crafts scene, to its highly regarded vintage car museum and a star observatory. In fact, keen stargazers will be interested to know that Geraldine is the starting point of the Starlight Highway, which leads visitors to Lake Tekapo and the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. For a day’s expedition, you can try visiting the nearby Peel Forest Park or soak up the beautiful farmland backdrop.
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki/Mount Cook is world-famous for being New Zealand’s highest peak, and for its cameo in a handful of blockbusters to boot. The stunning mountain and its national park can be accessed through a three and half hour drive that’s lined with dazzling sights: including Lake Tekapo, the Southern Alps, and Lake Pukaki. Aoraki/Mount Cook can be explored through walks, scenic helicopter rides or glacial trips from the local village. If you’re into a bit of history, make sure to check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, which features a museum, 3D movie exhibitions and an awesome planetarium.
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