Through the plane window, Canterbury stretches out enticing and intriguing, in patchwork brilliance.
Greens, yellows, reds and browns are edged with blocky dark hedges and long lines of intersecting roads. Along the east is the coastline; inland toward the South Island’s spine, the land crumples into snow-tipped mountains.
Canterbury is magnificent and varied – in landscape and in character. Christchurch, with its grace, energy and charm, plays base for explorations out to Banks Peninsula and Akaroa, inland to ski fields at Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Hutt, north to seaside Kaikoura and northwest to Hanmer Springs, down to Ashburton, Timaru... and in its hinterland, wineries, spas, gardens, beaches, peaks to climb, cycle paths – a myriad of Cantabrian patches.
A multitude of outdoor activity is offered in Canterbury, an example is The Pegasus Bay Walkway, accessed from Pines Beach, Woodend Beach or Waikuku. It takes you along the beach, up onto sand dunes and through pine plantations.
Oxford is a peaceful country town revealing a slice of farming life with horse riding and farmstays.
Just 20 minutes from the highway is Lake Coleridge, a retreat area that offers walks, views and lakeside camping facilities, as well as luxury lodge resorts. An easy five kilometres, the Rakaia Gorge Walkway follows the edge of the beautiful Rakaia Gorge with Mount Hutt as a backdrop.
The Southern Alps in Canterbury are bigger than their European namesake
- Go to Gore Bay, north of Christchurch, for surf, weird rock formations and incredible cribs
- Journey from Waipara to Waikari on the Weka Pass Railway, run by volunteers on the first and third Sundays of each month
- Head to Geraldine for handmade cheese, chocolate and fruit syrups
- See stars at Mt John Observatory, one of the best places in the world to do so