Viewing the black night sky at Dark Sky Project, Takapo (Lake Tekapo) in Canterbury
Viewing the black night sky at Dark Sky Project, Takapo (Lake Tekapo) in Canterbury

Below we look at top activities in Christchurch & Canterbury. From beaches and lakes, to mountains, wineries, hikes, adventure, whales, stargazing and more! Canterbury is a region on New Zealand’s South Island of which the largest city is Christchurch. The Christchurch & Canterbury region has an abundance of adventure opportunities and activities to experience.

Dark Sky Project is a top activity in the Christchurch & Canterbury region

Located on Mount St John near Lake Tekapo in Canterbury the Dark Sky Project is famous for stargazing. The Alpine landscapes are stunning during the day. Likewise the pitch black night skies are breathtaking at night. The observatory boasts 6 telescopes including New Zealand’s largest which can observe 50 million stars each night. As a rule tours should be pre-booked as the observatory operates as a research center during the day. There is a café on site which you can walk to and enjoy daylight mountain views. Twilight Stargazing tours operate every day apart from Christmas Day. Lake Tekapo is approximately a 3 hour drive from both Queenstown and Christchurch. Therefore if you want to include a twilight tour in your itinerary you will need to stay in the area. Contact the Luxury Adventures team for options to incorporate this top Canterbury activity within your New Zealand itinerary.

If you're looking for top activities in Christchurch & Canterbury then Mt Cook National park offers many options.
Flying over Mount Cooks towering expanse is a Christchurch & Canterbury activity worth experiencing when in the region

Experiencing the Mt cook National Park

If you’re looking for top activities in Christchurch & Canterbury then this National park offers many options. Mount Cook National Park in Canterbury is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers in New Zealand. Aoraki (Mt Cook) as it’s called by its Maori name, is New Zealand’s highest mountain. New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3,724 m (12,218 ft) was also a training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary before his exhibition to Everest in 1953. Today Mount Cook is popular for climbers, hikers and alpine climbers. One of the best ways to view the mountain is from the air.

There are several scenic flight options depending on budget and time available. With exclusive helicopter flights, or share a fixed wing flight. Flights depart from the township of Tekapo, also from Fox  Glacier and Franz Josef. There are also numerous walks and hikes that are worth doing if you have more time in this pristine region.    

Sperm Whale Watching in Kaikoura, Canterbury
Sperm Whale Watching in Kaikoura, Canterbury

Sperm Whale Watching in Kaikoura

The town of Kaikoura in Canterbury is the most well-known place for Sperm whale watching in New Zealand. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where Sperm Whales can be seen all year round. If you’re heading to Kaikoura then Whale Watching is a must do activity in the area. Boat tours from Kaikoura run all year (weather dependent) and they have a 95% success rate. The cost of these tours is currently NZ$150 per person and the tour will take around 2.5 hours. To gain a different perspective of the sperm whale, you could take a whale watching flight. A great way to view the entire whale from head to tail. A unique opportunity to see Sperm whales, and dolphins.

Combining thermal hot springs and Waipara wine tasting is a great activity in the Christchurch and Canterbury region.
Combining thermal hot springs and Waipara wine tasting is a great activity in the Christchurch and Canterbury region.

Hanmer Thermal Hot Springs in the Christchurch and Canterbury regions

Hanmer Springs is an alpine resort town in Canterbury. Perhaps best known for its natural thermal hot springs making it an all year round destination. In addition the town also offers great walks and mountain biking in the nearby forest. Also fly fishing, jet boating and even a bungy, if that’s your thing!

Travelers come to the region for the the thermal hot springs. The pools are open year round with the exception of Christmas Day. A great place to visit if you are spending time in Christchurch as it’s only a 90 minute drive. A great combination is to soak in the thermal pools and then enjoy wine tasting at the nearby Waipara vineyards.

Wine Tasting in the Waipara region is a relaxing activity when in the Christchurch and Canterbury region.
Wine Tasting in the Waipara region is a relaxing activity when in the Christchurch and Canterbury region.

Wine tasting in the Waipara Wine Region

Only a 90 minute drive from central Christchurch and a similar distance from Kaikoura, the Waipara valley is home to 75 vineyards. The Canterbury area produces Pinot Noirs and Rieslings amongst other varietals. Wineries include Pegasus Bay, Waipara Hills, and Tussock Hills. Luxury Adventures can arrange a tour of the area within your itinerary, with pick ups from your Christchurch accommodation. Costs of the tours vary, from group tours starting as little as NZ$200 per person, and exclusive tours around NZ$1,000. Talk to our team if you would like a Waipara wine tour included in your Luxury New Zealand vacation.

Still looking for activities in the Christchurch and Canterbury region?

Have a look at some of our previous activity blogs below.

Luxury Adventures – Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999.

Kay Campbell

Originally from the UK, I now call New Zealand my home, relocating 15 years ago with my husband and two children. I have been with Luxury Adventures for 15 years. When not planning perfect vacations and honeymoons for our clients, I enjoy running and recently completed the Queenstown marathon, along with reading, walking in the bush and on the beach with my two dogs and finding new favourite places in New Zealand.

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