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Must-do Day Trips from Christchurch

6th June 2017

“I want to travel on the open road.”

Pressed against the southern edge of Pegasus Bay to the east of the Canterbury Plains, the charming city of Christchurch makes the most of its surroundings. Once you have had your city fix, hire a set of wheels for an escape among beautiful landscapes spanning deep greens and brilliant blues. Christchurch is a gateway city to some of the South Island’s most stunning destinations – many are just a short drive away.

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two fur seals on rocks in kaikoura new zealand

Kaikoura

Set between the Seaward Kaikoura Range and Pacific Ocean, this pretty peninsula town is a scenic 2.5-hour drive from Christchurch. The village is considered one of the world’s best places to spot wildlife. Commonly seen marine life includes whales, dolphins, fur seals, and penguins, as well as a plethora of bird species. In the Maori language, ‘kai’ means food, while ‘koura’ means crayfish, so it’s only fitting the number one must-do is trying the local crayfish. Find a roadside seafood shack to enjoy fresh cray tails washed down with a crisp glass of NZ sauvignon blanc, of course!

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Hanmer Springs

Located 135km from Christchurch, the South Island’s low-key spa town is the perfect day or weekend getaway. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and wooded forests, the pint-sized village is like stepping into a fairytale – complete with billowing mist. Hanmer Springs is abundant with natural hot pools, ideal for melting any aches or pains away. The local spa has many different pools to choose from, including open-air and sulphuric waters, and even a lazy river.

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Akaroa

New Zealand’s first and only French settlement still retains much of its provincial charm. Tucked away on the Banks Peninsula in the lower Canterbury Region, Akaroa, while a sleepy destination, has enough to keep you occupied for days. Historic buildings housing quaint gift stores and cosy cafes serve as the perfect backdrop for leisurely wanders. The surrounding seas are teeming with marine life, including the rarest and smallest marine dolphin, which you can often see on kayaking excursions.

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Arthur’s Pass

A two-hour drive west out of Christchurch, past pasturelands and through mountainous valley folds, brings road trippers to the scenic alpine village of Arthur’s Pass. The town is New Zealand’s highest settlement, at 900m, making it a convenient base for tramping and hiking the awe-inspiring surrounds. Walking routes criss-cross through the lush landscape of Arthur’s Pass National Park, from gentle strolls to lengthy trails, such as the popular 6.8km Arthur’s Pass Walking Track.


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