Escape to North Canterbury


North Canterbury travel blog

Discover the Canterbury Region

Experience unforgettable wildlife encounters, soak in luxurious hot springs, or taste world-class wines in North Canterbury. With the sweeping Pacific Ocean to the east and the stunning Southern Alps to the west, marvel at the alpine scenery and unique attractions in this beautiful region of the South Island.

Known for its vineyards, rivers, wilderness areas and holiday resorts, North Canterbury is also home to 51 public conservation lands including Arthur’s Pass National Park, 4 forest parks, part of the Lewis Park National Reserve, 15 conservation areas and 14 nature reserves.

Choose from a great selection of unique accommodation including farmstays, private cottages with stunning views, or well-appointed motels on the beachfront.

Holiday Destinations in North Canterbury


At this most northerly district of North Canterbury, the Southern Alps’ Kaikoura Mountains reach almost to the sea. For those travelling between Picton and Christchurch, Kaikoura is a convenient place to break their journey.

The name Kaikoura translates to ‘meal of crayfish’ (rock lobster) which are plentiful in the Kaikoura Peninsula’s upwelling currents. North of Kaikoura is the coastline’s iconic crayfish caravan which has been an attraction for many years, and to sit on the beach eating the fresh delicate crayfish meat while watching the abundant wildlife is a true Kaikoura experience.

Choose from an array of wildlife experiences including whale watching by air or sea, encounters with wild dusky dolphins, close-up viewing of Albatross and other magnificent seabirds. From the town centre, the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway leads to lookout points at Point Kean. A colony of New Zealand fur seals lives on the rock platforms nearby. 

Go fishing for the opportunity to catch a variety of fish, including the infamous crayfish (New Zealand lobster) which are plentiful around the Kaikoura coastline.

Spend the day at a lavender farm, stroll through the gardens then stop at the tearoom for delicious refreshments. Enjoy farm animals and scenic views from Mt Fyffe to the Kaikoura Peninsula.

Hanmer Springs

With its natural hot springs and surrounding alpine scenery, Hanmer Springs has become a popular tourist destination. Try jet boating and quad biking in the Waiau Gorge, mountain biking, forest walks and fishing for salmon and trout in the Waiau River. Take a scenic flight to view the town’s stunning landscape from the sky.

In Conical Hill and Heritage Forest, you can hike to a lookout point along a trail. Trails and seasonal ski slopes can be found in the surrounding mountains.

Experience New Zealand’s first ever freedom horse trek where you can explore the majestic St James Conservation Area at your leisure. Trek through beautiful native bush and rocky outcrops of the high country and take in the stunning view of the Molesworth mountain peaks and Clarence river.

The local thermal pools attract visitors pursuing the advantages of its natural mineral waters and clean alpine air. The pool complex is a great family day out to enjoy exhilarating water slides, or relax in the onsite day spa.

For that something a little different, experience a relaxing Llama Trek around Hanmer Springs, leading your own llama.Have lunch with the llamas on a day tour, enjoy the solitude and splendor of the South Island high country on a multi day wilderness camp.

Mt Lyford

A hidden mountain paradise located between Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura, Mt Lyford is a great place to get away from it all. Home to an alpine village and ski resort, Mt Lyford Village is a unique year-round destination. From fishing, skiing, walking, mountain biking and stargazing, rent a holiday home here for an amazing holiday getaway.

Waipara Valley

Accommodating 14 wineries, the Waipara wine region is part of the larger North Canterbury wine region that spans nearly 200km of the South Island’s eastern coastline. The Waipara Valley offers outstanding local fare, fresh seasonal locally grown produce and an abundance of restaurants and cafes showcasing the regions offerings. Visit the local farmers market every Saturday morning to sample some of the delicious treats that the Waipara Valley has to offer. For a fun fulled day out, take a wine, beer and food tour.


The Waimakariri district extends from the large, braided Rakaia River near Christchurch north to the Waipara River, and includes the Ashley River. Inhabited areas are mostly on the wide alluvial plains, with foothills and mountains to the west being largely wilderness areas. River sports such as fishing, rafting, kayaking and jet-boating can be enjoyed on these rivers, which are also notable for their waterfowl. At the headwaters of the river are rugged gorges that are popular for hiking and horse trekking.