Yippee!! A long weekend and a time to explore Christchurch and the surrounding areas. Christchurch is a great place to start any South Island adventure big or small and 3 days is plenty of time to get out and discover what the Canterbury region has to offer. This trip is going to head north of Christchurch and check out the magnificent thermal springs at Hanmer and finish on a high with a trip to swim with dolphins up on the east coast. Sound like fun? Better get GOing then!
- Route map with key locations
- Recommended vehicle for this trip
- Trip itinerary
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Although you’ve just picked up your new GO Rentals car, don’t be in too big a hurry to leave Christchurch as there is plenty to see and do. Take the time on your first day to explore the ‘Garden City’, the largest city in the South Island where you can relax your way into your latest adventure.
Christchurch has unfortunately made headlines in recent times for a string of earthquakes that caused serious damage to the city – but its charm remains untouched and the city is rebuilding.
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The tree-lined Avon River and Christchurch’s many parks and gardens give the city its reputation as the Garden City so make sure you check out the botanical gardens and the beautiful parks. Check out the several Gap Filler projects that volunteers have created to temporarily “activate” sites left empty by the earthquakes – you’ll be able to see some unique and really creative work that is proof of Christchurch’s charm and resilience.
After a morning spent exploring Christchurch, it’s time to hit the road and head to your first destination on this trip – Hanmer Springs. It’s a 134km drive which will take you around 2 hours.
Once you’ve arrived and checked into your accommodation, it’s probably going to be getting close to dinner time and Hanmer is a great place to grab some food and sample some of the local beverages.
Monteith’s Brewery Bar
If you’ve not managed to sample the delights of one of New Zealand’s favourite beers, fear not! Although it may not offer the full brewery tour experience, The Monteith’s brew pub in Hanmer is certainly a great place to go and try your favourite Monteith’s ale and relax and unwind. Situated right in the heart of the town, there is a great vibe to match the great beer so whatever you have been up to during the day, this is a great place to end your night. Our top tip is the Monteith’s Southern Pale Ale. When in Rome as they say!
2Hanmer Springs and around
You will be glad you made the drive up yesterday as now you have a full day to explore the delights of this great little village. Surrounded by the beautiful Southern Alps with crisp alpine air, relax and unwind in the award-winning thermal pools or simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Hanmer Village and surrounding areas.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
The thermal pools and spa complex in Hanmer has been soothing peoples’ aches and pains away for the best part of 125 years and all those who have been before you can’t be wrong! Relax in one of 15 open air pools or try out one of the 3 aquatherapy pools. Families and children are catered for too since a recent redevelopment has added three waterslides and a lazy river to keep even the liveliest of kids entertained.
Wai Ariki Farm Park
If getting crinkly is not your thing, there are plenty of other attractions in Hanmer and one of the best is the Wai Ariki Farm Park. Offering a hands-on experience, Wai Ariki is home to some weird and wonderful animals which are sure to keep kids and adults amused for the morning. The Tibetan Yak are a particular favourite!
Although you have only just headed off on this epic kiwi adventure, we know some of you love a bit of retail therapy. With a fantastic range of boutique outlets including the quirky ‘Up the Garden Path’ and ‘Wink’, we’re sure you’ll find the shopping as relaxing as a trip to the thermal pools.
After a full day relaxing, it may be difficult to drag yourself away and head over to Kaikoura where you will spend your second night. If it’s all too much, you can always make the drive in the morning but we recommend heading over there tonight so you have a full day in Kaikoura on your last day of this trip.
It’s about 130kms to Kaikoura which will take you just over 2 hours.
3Kaikoura to Christchurch (181kms – 2 hours 21 mins)
See, we told you you’d be glad you came the night before! Kaikoura is a great place to spend the last day of your trip and a great opportunity to tick off one of the things that appears on so many wish lists – swim with dolphins! Kaikoura is not just about the dolphins though – this place is a whale watchers paradise and one of the best places in New Zealand to spot them at varying times of the year. There’s also a chance to sample some of the local vino as we’re not too far from the world famous Marlborough wine region.
Cellar View Café and Restaurant
Kaikoura is one of New Zealand’s best locations for seeing marine life including whales and dolphins. It is also the home to the Cellar View Cafe and Restaurant. This place serves up some pretty amazing dishes matched only by the stunning views out to the pacific. It’s easy to let an afternoon drift by, enjoying the delicious food and admiring the endless view. Nice.
Swimming with dolphins
GO Play partner Encounter Kaikoura offers a brilliant opportunity to get in the water in the south Pacific and swim with these amazing animals with tours operating three times a day.
It’s not just dolphins that pass through the waters around Kaikoura though and if you time things right, there is also the chance to see various species of whale as well as seals and birds.
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After a full on morning swimming with dolphins, watching the whales or simply relaxing with a glass of vino (not for the driver though please), it’s time to hit the road and head back to drop the car off in Christchurch. Hopefully you will have managed to squeeze in everything you wanted – maybe you loved it so much in Hanmer that you stayed for two nights and headed straight back to Christchurch – it’s been known! However your trip worked out, why not send us your pics for our GO Snap Happy competition for the chance to win back the cost of your car rental – can’t say fairer than that!