Want to see and do more in Christchurch, New Zealand? Check out the top 10 best day trips!
The South Island of New Zealand is one of the most picturesque places in the world, with amazing views, iconic landmarks, and natural beauty. With mountain ranges, golden beaches, and vibrant cities, there is such a variety of things to explore!
Ōtautahi, Christchurch is on the east coast of the South Island, and is the largest city in the South Island. After experiencing devastating earthquakes between September 2010 and January 2012, a lot of the city has now rebuilt. It is now a lively city with plenty to love! You’ll find amazing eateries, nature walks and mountain biking, adventure activities, shopping, and more, right at your fingertips.
If you’re planning a trip to Christchurch, there are also lots of amazing places to explore only a short drive away. Here are the top ten best day trips to take!
1. Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is a wonderful spot to enjoy nature and incredible views.
A scenic three-hour drive away, Lake Tekapo is a popular spot for tourists, and for good reason. If you want great scenery, mountain views, hot pools, and star gazing, you’ll love it here.
Overlooking the lake, you’ll find the Church of the Good Shepherd, a historic building from 1935 that is still used as a place of worship. You might recognize the church as one of the most Instagrammed spots in the South Island!
Tekapo Springs provides all the entertainment and relaxation options in one convenient location. They offer hot pools, a day spa, ice skating rink, snow tubing, and star gazing. You can even relax in the pools while star gazing during their unique two hour experience!
Why not experience the area on horseback? Mackenzie Alpine Horse Trekking offer tours around the forest, lake, and mountains during the warmer seasons. This is the perfect opportunity for animal lovers to enjoy fantastic views of the Mackenzie Country.
Alongside these fun activities, Lake Tekapo is also a wonderful spot to enjoy nature. Walk along the lake, breathe in the fresh air, and take in the view of the mountain ranges.
2. Aoraki/Mount Cook
The Hooker Valley track is an easy 3-hour walk through mountains and glaciers.
Another hour from Lake Tekapo, you’ll find Aoraki/Mount Cook. This small town is a must-visit spot from nature lovers and adventurers. Aoraki/Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain, and the National Park is home to some of the longest glaciers as well.
Enjoy this beautiful area on the Hooker Valley Track, an easy 3-hour walking track that leads through the sacred Tōpuni area. With three swing bridges along the way, the track ends with a stunning view over Hooker Lake and its surrounding mountains and glaciers.
If you’re looking for something more extreme, the Mueller Hut route is another popular hike in the area. This is an advanced track with alpine terrain and is only recommended for those with experience during winter months. The hike takes about 4 hours to the hut, and 3 hours back to Aoraki/Mount Cook village.
You can also enjoy mountain biking, scene flights, skydiving, and star gazing at Mount Cook. Don’t forget your camera for some Insta-worthy shots!
3. Omarama Clay Cliffs
Hot tubs and clay cliffs – Omarama has lots to explore!
Another popular spot for tourists and locals is the unique Oamarama Clay Cliffs, located under 4 hours from Christchurch. These natural rock formations were formed by glaciers millions of years ago and are made up of gravel and silt. The tall pinnacles are
The Clay Cliffs are on private land, so you will need to pay a $5 vehicle admission fee.
Stop in at the Omarama hot tubs afterwards to relax and unwind with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
4. Mt Hutt
Mt Hutt ski field is perfect for beginners and experts.
There are plenty of options for skiing and snowboarding in the South Island. Mt Hutt is only an hour and 45 minutes away from Christchurch, offering some of the best snow in the whole country. The resort was voted New Zealand’s best ski resort for seven years running, so you know you’ll be in good hands!
Mt Hutt ski field is great for any experience level, offering a range of trails and runs to suit all skills. Enjoy a coffee or cold beer at one of the resorts bars or restaurants, take a lesson to improve your skills, or try out tobogganing if skiing isn’t your style!
Kaikōura is the northern-most district within the Canterbury region and is a short 2 and a half hour drive from Christchurch. Come here if you want to connect with nature and wildlife. Go on a dolphin encounter, llama trekking tour or whale watching. For a moment of adventure, experience a farm 4WD tour, jump on a fishing charter boat, or a jetboat thrill ride.
There is lots to see and do in this beautiful part of Aotearoa, making it an epic spot for a day trip. The region also offers plenty of dining options. If you love seafood, you won’t go hungry here! Indulge in groper, cod, mussels, crayfish, and more.
If you don’t have much time, Akaroa is another amazing spot to visit, and only an hour and 20 minutes away from the city. Akaroa is a dolphin haven, and you can often spot Hector’s dolphins in the harbour, or swim with them on a boat tour.
Enjoy local walks or explore by bike, check out the museum for some history on the area, or have a drink at one of the nearby wineries. This small town sure has a lot to offer!
7. Hanmer Springs
Relax and unwind.
Hanmer Springs has an incredible thermal hot pools and spa, making it a popular destination for families and couples. They offer a range of pools, with relaxing rock pools, sulphur pools, pools with water jets and bubbles. With an activity pool, lap pool, lazy river, and waterslides also on offer, there is plenty of fun to be had for the whole family!
Hanmer Springs also has nearby ski fields, jet boat rides, forest walks and mountain biking for the outdoor lovers. Pair that with delicious food options for an epic day out. This is a small but active town, perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway!
Methven is near Mt Hutt, so is often considered a ski town, and is a good spot to stay if you’re planning a weekend away skiing. There is also plenty more to do in the area!
Go on a hunting or fly-fishing experience with Backcountry New Zealand. This family owned business will take you on an experience of a life time! If this is something that’s been on your bucket list, there’s no better way to finally check it off!.
There is certainly no shortage of hot pools in the Canterbury region. Methven is home to one of the area’s newest wellness destinations, Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa! Their Tranquility Pools offer an adult-exclusive experience to soak and unwind with amazing views all around you. Treat yourself to a drink at the swim up bar, or enjoy some canapes!
For families, you can check out the Discover Pools, with a crazy river and plunge pool. The water for their pools is sourced from the Rangitata river, which is fed by the glacial melt water from the Southern Alps. They use solar thermal collectors and insulated holding tanks to heat the pools, providing a sustainable way to keep you warm, even when it’s cloudy!
9. Moeraki Boulders
Check out the unique Moeraki Boulders.
Another spot for those who enjoy unique natural landmarks is Moeraki and the famous Moeraki Boulders! These mysteriously shaped stones are perfectly round and located all along the beach. They make for a great photo opportunity, or interesting read if you want to learn more about Maori legend behind them.
Each of the boulders weighs hundreds of tonnes, with some up to two metres high! Scientists have explained that the boulders were formed over 60 million years ago.
The Moeraki Boulders are located 3 and a half hour’s drive from Christchurch.
10. Visit local beaches
Lastly, there are plenty of beaches within a short distance of Christchurch city that are worth checking out. Leithfield Beach, Pegasus Beach, New Brighton, Sumner and more, are all nice long stretches of sand that make for the perfect day out! Whether you want to swim, surf, or sunbathe, there is plenty of variety at Christchurch’s beaches. Be sure to check out the local cafes and restaurants nearby for a bite to eat. Christchurch is well known for all its eateries and cute cafes!
Where to stay?
Tasman Holiday Parks – Christchurch is a great spot to stay with a variety of accommodation options.
Basing yourself in central Christchurch is the perfect way to be only a few hours away from these must-visit spots and more. Stay at Tasman Holiday Parks – Christchurch and you’ll be only 15 minutes away from the airport, less than 15 minutes away from the city centre, and close to plenty of shopping and restaurants.
Tasman Holiday Parks – Christchurch offers a range of accommodation options, from modern motel rooms to unpowered tent sites. No matter what you’re looking for, this is something to suit every holiday and budget! Enjoy great shared facilities, a pool, and amazing location. What are you waiting for? Book your Christchurch holiday today!