Day Tripping in Canterbury's Wonderland
As the old song goes, 'Baby, it's cold outside'. But just because New Zealand is wearing its winter coat doesn't mean you have to hibernate. Especially in Canterbury, which comes alive during the winter months. Here are our picks for some of the hottest things to do in Canterbury this winter.
AORAKI / MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK
Winter is possibly the best time to take in the beautiful vistas on the drive here, past dazzling Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. Then experience this spectacular alpine environment and marvel at New Zealand's highest peak - Aoraki Mt Cook -shrouded in white, with a walk, scenic flight or glacier trip from Mt Cook Village. Save some time for The Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre which features an amazing 3D movie, digital Planetarium and museum.
Spend a day in magical natural New Zealand, with towering Rocky Mountains, steep gorges, rushing rivers and waterfalls, and lush native bush. It's your choice how you explore - rug up for short gentle strolls, mountain summit crusades and scenic mountain bike trails.
What's winter without red wine? Sample a few drops in the Waipara Valley, before heading to this beautiful alpine setting for a soothing soak in the thermal pools and a relaxing spa treatment. Or perhaps head out for a nature walk, mountain biking, a jet boat ride or a bungy jump. You won't go hungry, with numerous cafes and restaurants.
Don't forget your beanie for a leisurely day exploring this world-renowned wine producing area. Enjoy cellar door tastings and see how the landscape, soil and micro climate come together with some magic from winemakers. Savour superb Canterbury cuisine matched with a local drop at a vineyard restaurant.
Turn the car towards Inland Scenic Route 72 for the drive to this tranquil rural township. Then relax with a hot coffee and freshly made food. Browse the specialty shops or explore the beautiful Oxford Forest or Ashley Gorge nearby by foot or mountain bike.
This picturesque seaside settlement is equally charming in winter. Enjoy the stunning scenic drive over to Banks Peninsula, then immerse yourself in Akaroa's French charm. Wander through boutique stores and galleries, and relax over a leisurely cafe lunch with a local drop. Board a cruise to see rare and spectacular wildlife - dolphin swimming is a must-do.
Wrap up warmly and get into this nature lovers' paradise, where you can encounter majestic whales, dolphins, fur seals and giant albatross by boat, helicopter or plane. Learn about ancient indigenous customs on a Maori cultural tour. And it's practically illegal not to try some succulent local seafood at a restaurant, seaside fish and chip picnic or the iconic crayfish caravan, Nin's Bin.
Savour gourmet delights in pretty Geraldine, and perhaps pack a picnic to enjoy in the beautiful Talbot or Peel Forest areas. Fascinating museums are plentiful in these parts, and Timaru boasts an impressive innovative art gallery. Enjoy some local hospitality with a meal overlooking picturesque Caroline Bay and the Southern Alps, and check out the famous pottery in Temuka.