The Greenwood Guide to New Zealand
Canterbury, New Zealand

Nature and Activities in Canterbury, New Zealand

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Christchurch Bike Tours

Christchurch

Adventure activities

New Zealand's only guided city bike tour has been operating for six years in Christchurch, a (thankfully) flat and attractive city. This tour, on trusty retro style Bauer bikes, takes you to all the highlights of the city, making the most of the abundant green spaces and cycle ways. It's a great way to begin to map out the town if you are planning a longer stay, or to visit all the must-see places in the fresh air and sunshine if you're more pressed for time.

Christchurch Bike Tours
  • Prices: Tours depart daily at 2pm (minimum of two people). November till March. $30 per person.
  • Contact: 24a Achilles Street, Dallington, Christchurch
  • Tel: 03-366-0337
  • Fax: 03-366-0337
  • Email: chchbiketours@yahoo.co.nz
  • Web: www.chchbiketours.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre

Hanmer Springs

Adventure activities

Hanmer Springs can be a relaxing spa town for a gentle weekend break - or it can be a bit of an adventure capital. These guys will help you out with the latter. They have information on and can organise bookings for various of those adrenalin-packed pursuits that people like to thrill themselves with. They rent out equipment for mountain biking, fishing, skiing and snowboard gear (the nearest slope is 17km away). Open 9am - 5pm.

  • Contact: 20 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs
  • Tel: 03-315-7233
  • Email: info@hanmeradventure.co.nz
  • Web: www.hanmeradventure.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Glenstrae Farm 4-Wheeler Adventures

Kaikoura

Adventure activities

Alastair and Anita have spiced up the Kaikoura coast with a good dash of adrenaline. All safety gear, full instruction, tremendous location and, of course, your own set of wheels are provided. You just have to put it all together, hang on tight and keep your eyes open. The trip is eco-conscious too and you will learn about the dramatic coastline, rugged reef, beaches and seal colony – all of which you get to see (eyes open remember…). The 8-wheel Argo Tour (a bit like a mini, open-top tank) is also available and is suitable for kids.

  • Prices: Guided ATV tour $110 per adult (departs 8:30am and 1pm). Argo tour $60 per adult, $25 per child (departs 9:30 am and 1:30pm).
  • Contact: Glenstrae Farm, SH1, Kaikoura
  • Tel: 03-319-7021 or freephone 0800-004-009 (within New Zealand)
  • Fax: 03-319-7023
  • Email: info@4wheeladventures.co.nz
  • Web: www.4wheeladventures.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Balloon Adventures - Up Up and Away

Christchurch

Air ballooning

Chris and Hal are passionate about ballooning and with 15 years experience, their enthusiasm is still on the rise. Watch as the parks, rivers and buildings fade into the distance and make way for the patchwork farmland of the Canterbury Plains. You'll be in full and stunning view of the Southern Alps to the west and the endless blue of the ocean to the east. Be prepared for a very early start, obligatory glasses of champagne and please, just don’t forget your camera!

Balloon Adventures - Up Up and Away
  • Prices: $280 pp, $240 for children (5 - 11 yrs).
  • Contact: Unit 6, 31 Stevens Street, PO Box 36 308, Christchurch
  • Tel: 03-381-4600
  • Fax: 03-381-4611
  • Email: info@ballooning.co.nz
  • Web: www.ballooning.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Christchurch Arts Centre

Christchurch

Arts & crafts

Every Saturday and Sunday this place comes alive when artistic types descend here to sell their wares, though the Galleria inside has open workshops daily and has a reputation as one of the best craft centres in NZ. You’ll find a tremendous variety of lovely things: hand-crafted jewellery made from paua shells and greenstone, gorgeous sheepskin rugs, local artists’ work and so on... all very genuine and home-grown. There are several food stalls on site at the weekends with every Asian cuisine you can imagine. One sells terrific Bavarian sausages and another Belgian waffles. The old-fashioned art-house cinema here shows a great selection of interesting films (as art-house cinemas are supposed to).

  • Prices: Retail shops and galleries are open 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week. Arts and crafts market is every weekend from 10am until about 4pm.
  • Contact: Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch
  • Tel: 03-366-0989
  • Fax: 03-379-7576
  • Email: info@artscentre.org.nz
  • Web: www.artscentre.org.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Akaroa Fox Sail

Akaroa

Boat trips

Sailing on this classic 85-year-old, 50ft ketch is a really special way to experience the beauty and wildlife of Akaroa Harbour, one of two drowned volcanoes that form the Banks Peninsula and home to dolphins, seals and penguins. Sailing these protected waters is hugely popular with locals and you can see what the fuss is about on the Fox II, where you’re most welcome to join the crew in a hands-on, eco-friendly sailing experience. Alternatively, let others do the thinking and sit back, relax and enjoy the sun, sea and hills.

Akaroa Fox Sail
  • Prices: $65 per adult, $30 for school-age children, children under 5 go free. Private charters by arrangement. Leaving from Daly’s Wharf in Akaroa 10:30am and 1:30pm from mid-Dec - May. You can book on board or at the Akaroa Information Centre.
  • Contact: Akaroa Information Centre, 41 Muter Street, Akaroa
  • Tel: 03-304-7024; 0800 FOX SAIL (369 7245)
  • Cel: 027-4144-879
  • Email: info@akaroafoxsail.co.nz
  • Web: www.akaroafoxsail.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Treecrop Farm

Akaroa

Botany & gardens

This is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. A lovely 20-minute walk from the town centre, you’ll enter Lynne’s wonderful wild wilderness gardens, criss-crossed with walking tracks that lead to historic beech forests, waterfalls and even the ocean at Otanerito Bay. Included in the entrance fee to the gardens is a cappuccino, hot or iced chocolate drink or a berry juice with fresh herbs best enjoyed from the sheepskin-strewn verandah overlooking the greenery. For a little extra edible ‘treats’ are served from the orchards.

  • Prices: Entrance to gardens and verandahs is $12 pp, includes drink. Access to farm tracks is free of charge.
  • Contact: Grehan Valley Road, Akaroa
  • Tel: 03-304-7158
  • Email: lynne@treecropfarm.com
  • Web: www.treecropfarm.com
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch

Botany & gardens

These gardens are just so pretty you could happily spend hours wandering in and out of the different sections. In fact I wandered around it most days and never got bored. The jungly glass house is wonderful, as are the delightful aromas that float from the walled rose garden. There are loads of shaded spots under trees and several paths around the river.

  • Prices: Floral shows and houses are open 10.15am - 4pm daily.
  • Contact: Information Centre, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch
  • Tel: 03-941-7590
  • Fax: 03-941-8267
  • Email: christchurchbotanicgardens@ccc.govt.nz
  • Web: www.ccc.govt.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Taunton Gardens

Christchurch

Botany & gardens

Barry has been planting up his vast Governors Bay garden since 1971 and has supplied the likes of Prince Charles with his flowers. Personally collected species from the Himalayas and Nepal blossom alongside local beauties and fill the air with mingled scents. Bring a group for afternoon tea or enjoy a picnic accompanied by a flurry of doves in these lovely sculpture-filled grounds. They are open in the daylight hours but they can be yours at anytime if you stay in Jack's Cottage.

Taunton Gardens
  • Prices: $10 entry. Parties welcome to bring their own picnic lunch or tea. Morning or afternoon tea possible by prior arrangement. Enquire about weddings and events for larger groups.
  • Contact: 100 Govenor's Bay - Teddington Rd, Christchurch
  • Tel: 03-329-9746
  • Fax: 03-329-9546
  • Cel: 027-244-9470
  • Email: taunton@clear.net.nz
  • Web: www.tauntongardens.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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International Balloon Fiesta

Festivals

Be warned, if you venture into the Wairarapa in March you may see an upside-down Humpty-Dumpty, giant bumble bees or even an out-sized beagle called Max floating nonchalantly past. Yes folks, it’s the annual International Balloon Fiesta. Check out the Night Glow event where balloons move to music, and the Key Grab where they compete to grab a key from a three metre-tall pole.

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Onuku Heights Horse Treks

Akaroa

Horse riding

Riding is a great way to appreciate the countryside, whether you are looking over the hedge into your neighbour’s garden (one of my mother’s favourite pursuits) or gazing open-mouthed at stupendous vistas. Thankfully, horse-treks at Onuku Heights focus on the latter, showcasing the wild Banks Peninsula landscape at its best, with not a topiary hedge in sight! You will ride out on the 309-hectare sheep and cattle farm through native bushland and under ancient matai trees. The pure-bred Quarter Horses are all well-trained and a dream come true for experienced riders.

Onuku Heights Horse Treks
  • Prices: From $140.
  • Contact: 166 Haylocks Road, RD 1, Akaroa
  • Tel: 03-304-7112/Freephone within NZ 0800-748-732
  • Fax: 03-304-7116
  • Email: onuku.heights@paradise.net.nz
  • Web: www.onuku-heights.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Pohatu Penguin Habitat

Akaroa

Nature & wildlife

Breeding season amongst the white-flippered penguins in the small Pohatu-Flea Bay is a busy time for Francis and Shireen. For the last decade they have monitored the lives of their old friends, witnessing such a number of divorces, births and deaths that would make most TV soaps seem tame. This is the largest of the littlest penguins colony on the mainland and one that needs constant protection from introduced predators. Small, guided groups are taken on fascinating tours into the colony enabling you to observe the penguins unobtrusively. You can also take out a kayak to explore the spectacular scenery and wildlife of Pohatu Marine Reserve.

Pohatu Penguin Habitat
  • Prices: The best time for penguin viewing is the breeding season between September and January. Penguin evening tours: $55 adult, $40 children under 12. $16 pp without pick-up from Akaroa, though 4WD needed to access the bay. Book through Akaroa Information Centre.
  • Contact: Pohatu-Flea Bay, Banks Peninsula
  • Tel: 03-304-8552
  • Email: fshelpspohatu@xtra.co.nz
  • Web: www.pohatu.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Christchurch

Nature & wildlife

You’re guaranteed to see a kiwi here (I'm talking about the bird of course) - no small promise in these parts. Open till 10pm each night there are several other oddities that you might find too; wekas (unusual, famed NZ wood hen), blue ducks (rare), throat tassled kune kune pigs (one-off, origin unknown), tuataras (one of the world's closest living relatives of the dinosaurs), a pond of eels (not that rare but yucky) and most bizarrely of all 'pakehas' (Maori for white men) doing the haka and dancing with poi. The latter is explained by the interactive cultural performances that are put on each evening teaching you about the South Island’s Maori, their customs and their history. Combine all this with an evening buffet for a great night out.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
  • Prices: Entry price to reserve children $10.50, adult $21. Ko Tane Maori Cultural Performance and Guided Tour $49 adults, $42.50 concessions, $23.70 under 15, under 5 free. Taste New Zealand evening buffet $59.
  • Contact: 60 Hussey Road, Christchurch
  • Tel: 03-359-6226
  • Fax: 03-359-6212
  • Email: info@willowbank.co.nz
  • Web: www.willowbank.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Hanmer Air

Hanmer Springs

Scenic flights

Why walk when you can fly? Jackie Frame offers an aerial perspective over some of the South Island’s most dramatic scenery. With over 14 years piloting experience and a passion for New Zealand’s natural beauty, Jackie will tailor a trip that treats you to the best mountain-filled views.

Hanmer Air
  • Prices: 20-minute flights, adult $95, child $80; 50 - 60 minutes, adult $185, child $155.
  • Contact: PO Box 4, Culverden, Hanmer Springs
  • Tel: 027-435-9810
  • Fax: 03-315-8143
  • Email: hanmerair@xtra.co.nz
  • Web: www.hanmerair.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa

Hanmer Springs

Thermal springs

Visitors have been soaking in the thermal waters in this alpine village for 125 years, and in recent years they have received plaudits after plaudits. The hot spring water mixes with freshwater to produce pools of varying temperature (32'C - 42'C), so you can pick the perfect pool for soaking that old war wound, or just for relaxing. Your watery options are endless: landscaped rock pools, sulphur pools, a 25m freshwater lap pool, family activity area and more. Splash away as long as you can!

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa
  • Prices: Adult $12, child $6. 10am - 9pm daily. Health and beauty treatments are offered, prices vary according to treatment.
  • Contact: Amuri Avenue, Hanmer Springs
  • Tel: 03-315-0000
  • Email: info@hanmersprings.co.nz
  • Web: www.hanmersprings.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Tranz Scenic Rail Journeys

Christchurch

Train journeys

Tranz Scenic operate two scenic spectacles of train journeys in and out of Christchurch. Widely considered one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, the TranzAlpine traverses the mighty Southern Alps between Christchurch and Greymouth, beginning at the Pacific Ocean and ending by the Tasman Sea. On the way, you’ll pass through a truly bewildering variety of scenery. The journey begins by crossing the flat, alluvial plains of Canterbury that end at the foothills of the mountains. From here, a system of tunnels and three huge viaducts aid your ascent up through massive gorges and valleys to reach the broad Waimakariri and Bealey river valleys high above where beech forest eventually gives way to the snowcapped peaks of the Arthur’s Pass National Park. Huge skies and even bigger mountains fill the surrounding panorama and are utterly astounding. From here you’ll pass through the 8.5km tunnel at the small alpine village of Arthur’s Pass before making the descent down the western side past yet more valley’s, lakes and rivers into Greymouth. This journey is so spectacular that it really is a shame to a) forget you camera or b) do it when the weather and thus visibility is really bad, though chances are that if it’s raining on one coast, it's probably fine on the other. Another spectacularly scenic rail journey travels up the east coast from Christchurch to the port of Picton and vice versa. The journey travels through some of New Zealand’s finest horticultural areas and farmland pastures. With impressive mountains to one side and the rough and rugged Pacific coastline on the other, the train passes through the seaside village of Kaikoura. If you have the time it is well worth a stop to go out onto the water and see the famous whales and dolphins close up. If time is short, chug on and you might see some of the amazing wildlife from the comfort of your own carriage. This journey is a brilliant way to cut out time on the road when arriving at or departing from ferries crossing over to the North Island.

  • Prices: TranzsAlpine Christchurch - Greymouth from $109 pp rtn. Tranzcoastal Christchurch - Picton from $99 pp rtn, (from $109 for single Christchurch - Wellington which includes Interislander ferry crossings).
  • Tel: 04-495-0775
  • Fax: 04-472-8903
  • Email: bookings@tranzscenic.co.nz
  • Web: www.tranzscenic.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Banks Peninsula Track

Akaroa

Walks

Millions of years ago a fiery volcano poured layer upon layer of its molten lava fingers seaward where they were reshaped by the mighty Pacific Ocean to form the Banks Peninsula. This new 2 – 4 day walking track was created by eight local families and traverses the area’s old volcanic valleys and ridges, all worn with time and covered now in a patchwork of verdant pastures, freshwater streams and waterfalls. Accommodation along the way is very comfortable, quirky and full of character. This is a magical setting to walk in and a splendid contrast to the usual Great Walks for which NZ is famed.

Banks Peninsula Track
  • Prices: 4-day option is $225 pp, 2-day option $150 pp.
  • Contact: PO Box 54, Akaroa
  • Tel: 03-304-7612
  • Fax: 03-304-7612
  • Email: bankstrack@xtra.co.nz
  • Web: www.bankstrack.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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The Kaikoura Coast Track

Kaikoura

Walks

All you need is a good pair of boots and a reasonable degree of fitness. Sally and David have covered everything else. Whilst you tramp the 3 days of bush, beach and remote farmland you'll only worry about whether your camera will have enough view-capturing memory. At each farm-stay a smiling, knowledgeable host will greet you with your pre-delivered bags while a hot shower awaits. By offering such an insight into rural Kiwi life, the Kaikoura Coast Track is full-on tramping with a twist.

The Kaikoura Coast Track
  • Prices: 3-day tramp: $185 pp includes bag transport, guide booklet and map, safe car park and farmstay accommodation with self-catering facilities. 2-day mountain biking: $70 pp. Bring your own food and sleeping-bag. Meals and linen available by prior arangement.
  • Contact: Medina, Cheviot, North Canterbury
  • Tel: 03-319-2715
  • Email: sally@kaikouratrack.co.nz
  • Web: www.kaikouratrack.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Akaroa Dolphins

Akaroa

Whale and dolphin trips

Hector's dolphins, blue penguins, fur seals and fascinating sea birds are just a few of the creatures that call Akaroa Harbour home. Pip’s family in Akaroa dates back to 1838 (interestingly they were some of the original French settlers from Normandy) so guests get a really personal insight into the history, geology (the harbour waters fill what is actually a massive volcano crater), ecology and Maori traditions of the region. Small groups allow for more personal cruises on their wonderfully stylish, yet discreet and quiet vessel. Guests also receive a complimentary drink of NZ award-winning wine, beer or organic juice and some delicious, fresh home-baking.

Akaroa Dolphins
  • Prices: $60 per adult, $30 per child (5 - 15yrs), 4 yrs and under $20.
  • Contact: 65 Beach Road, Akaroa, Canterbury
  • Tel: 03-304-7866
  • Email: cruise@akaroadolphins.co.nz
  • Web: www.akaroadolphins.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Dolphin Experience

Akaroa

Whale and dolphin trips

Endemic to the coast of New Zealand, not only are these rounded little chaps the smallest sea-living dolphins in the world, but sadly they also happen to be the rarest of all oceanic species. Threatened by set nets and a low birth rate, there are only 2-2,500 individuals within two distinct populations off the South Island coast and another tiny group of 100 dolphins off North Island shores. Much smaller than other species, Hector dolphin adults grow to a length of 1.2m to 1.4m and their calves are like little sea-faring rugby balls at just 50-60cm at birth. With foreheads that curve down to the mouth’s tip, small rounded dorsal fins and a well-defined colour scheme it is not just their petiteness that makes them distinctive. Their bellies are white, bodies grey, flippers, fins and tails black and they are all marked by a jazzy swoosh of white that extends from the belly along the flanks towards the tail. Hector dolphins are really sociable types and usually swim in groups of 2 – 12. They are particularly friendly towards humans and will often swim to investigate you, your kayak or your boat. Dolphin Experience in Akaroa take small groups out into the sheltered harbour waters for the opportunity of swimming close to the dolphins. This is not the dolphin touching, ‘flipper’ type experience many hope for. Happily, as well as being sweet as pie, Hector dolphins are completely wild and so these tours are carried out strictly on the dolphins' terms.

Dolphin Experience
  • Prices: Swimming: adults $98, children $80. Watching: adults $48, children $25. Children under 5 can't swim but can go out on the boat and watch for free.
  • Contact: 61 Beach Road, Akaroa
  • Tel: 03-304-7726
  • Email: dolphins.akaroa@xtra.co.nz
  • Web: www.dolphinsakaroa.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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Encounter Kaikoura

Kaikoura

Whale and dolphin trips

You must book well in advance to bag yourself a space on one of these very special and emotionally charged tours. Strict conservation regulations are in place to protect Kaikoura’s dusky dolphin colony but, with exclusive rights to these dazzling creatures, ‘Dolphin Encounter’ will boat you right up to the action. Whether you watch from on board or snorkel up, jump in and join them, is up to you. For the more bird-brained ‘Albatross Encounter’ focuses on the rugged Kaikoura coastline and its spirited society of feathered, and often endangered, friends. Coming face to face with an albatross is an experience you certainly won’t forget in a hurry. Also a café on site for pre/post-trip nibbles.

Encounter Kaikoura
  • Prices: Dolphin Encounter: watching $65 (child $55), swimming $130 (child $120). Albatross Encounter: adult $80, child $40.
  • Contact: 96 Esplanade, Kaikoura
  • Tel: 03-319-6777
  • Fax: 03-319-6534
  • Email: info@encounterkaikoura.co.nz
  • Web: www.encounterkaikoura.co.nz
  • Updated: 31/01/2008

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