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Canterbury, New Zealand

Coastal and mountain experiences combine to make Canterbury a place where there's something for every traveller. Here you'll find many worlds within one region.


The Canterbury Region includes a large central portion of the east coast of the South Island, centred around the city of Christchurch.

General Facts

The Christchurch hinterland of highly productive farmlands extends from the silvery beaches of the east coast to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps on the western horizon. It offers many opportunities for fresh and exciting activities and attractions.

Christchurch region, New Zealand

Main Attractions and Activities

Step back into Maori, whaling, French and British history in Akaroa—Canterbury's oldest village. You can take a cruise on Lyllelton Harbour and enjoy the dramatic volcanic landscape. In summer you might even get the chance to swim with the world's rarest dolphin, the Hector Dolphin.

Two hours north of Christchurch is Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea—one of the few places where you can see the giant sperm whale. To the northwest lies Hanmer Springs, a scenic alpine and thermal village. You can enjoy nature or adventure activities, or laze in the pools. Nearby, in the Hurunui District, you can enjoy the wineries of Waipara.

Inland from Christchurch lie the magnificent Southern Alps—only an hour from the city. The village of Arthurs Pass makes an ideal base for all kinds of activities, and you can also experience the TranzAlpine rail trip—one of the world's most spectacular train journeys that takes you from Christchurch to Greymouth.

South of Christchurch lies the Ashburton and Timaru districts. Ashburton District is home to all kinds of exciting activities like skiing, hot air ballooning and salmon fishing. Timaru district features many attractive towns, rolling green hills, lush pasture and braided rivers.

Don't Miss

Hot air ballooning in Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Mountain biking in the Hanmer Forest
  • Horse safaris across the Hurunui high country
  • Dining at one of 13 Waipara vineyards
  • Relaxing with New Zealand hosts in the rural townships of the Hurunui
  • Akaroa, former French settlement
  • Arthur's Pass National Park
  • Whale watching, Kaikoura
  • Aigantighe Gallery, Timaru
  • South Canterbury Museum, Timaru
  • Botanic Gardens, Timaru
  • Historic bluestone Landing Services Building, Timaru
  • Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Timaru
  • Refurbished Theatre Royal, Timaru

Main Centres

  • Lyttelton - main port for Canterbury Ashburton, Kaiapoi, Rangiora—country service towns
  • Timaru - Canterbury's second-largest town and port for South Canterbury