7 Day Canterbury Introduction New Zealand Itinerary

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Our New Zealand itinerary introduces you to the stunning Canterbury region, and includes Christchurch, Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura.

We begin in the "Garden City", Christchurch. Home to over 700 parks, this beautiful city is a nature lovers paradise.

From Christchurch, your 7 day South Island itinerary takes you North on State Highway 1, through rolling hills and past vineyards, to the lovely alpine village of Hanmer Springs.

Perhaps best known for its relaxing hot pool and spa complex (which also houses a water park for the young and young at heart), Hanmer is also popular for it's many outdoor activities.

Also on the itinerary is the stunning seaside town of Kaikoura. Famous for its whale watch tours, seal colonies and seafood, Kaikoura is also well known for its scenic beauty.

Handy Tips

1) You can view your route map at the bottom of the page

2) Feel free to hire a car and use this itinerary as a guide, or fill out the form at the bottom of the page to talk to one of our local experts about a fully packaged self drive tour.

3) Place your cursor on a picture for a description of the picture.



Day by day -  click on each day for more detail, then when you finish just click on your browsers back button to return here

Day 1 - Arrive Christchurch

Day 2 - Explore Christchurch, the Garden City

Day 3 - Christchurch to Hanmer Springs

Day 4 - Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura

Day 5 - Kaikoura, a marine wonderland

Day 6 - Kaikoura to Christchurch

Day 7 - Kaikoura to home



Day 1 New Zealand Itinerary - Arrive Christchurch

On the first day of your Canterbury Introduction New Zealand itinerary you arrive in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand's South Island, with a population of around 370,000.

Punting on the Avon River Christchurch

Collect your rental car

Did you know that we offer market leading rates on rental cars and camper vans?

With access to all of the major suppliers, our huge range means that we will have something to suit your needs.

To see our range and check availability just click here.

Where to stay in Christchurch

Your accommodation options are plentiful in Christchurch. If you arrive late in the day you might prefer to book accommodation close to the airport.

Amazing views from the Christchurch Gondola

The Sudima is the closest motel to the airport (around 5 minutes walk) and is very highly rated.

The Airport Gateway Motor Lodge is a 10-15 minute drive from the airport and has spacious, clean rooms, and a good restaurant.

Around 20 minutes from the airport, Pavilions, on Papanui Road, is close to several restaurants and is a 15 minute walk to the city center. Again, it has clean, spacious rooms.

For something a little special, the Heritage in Cathedral Square in the city center, is a favorite. High ceilings, wide corridors and old world charm make this a really nice place to spoil yourself.

The grand lobby in the Heritage Christchurch

The Garden City

Christchurch is located just north of the Southern Alps, and offers stunning vistas for those of you that are keen photographers.

Christchurch has a very "English" feel to it, as reflected in the architecture, beautiful parks and gardens, and it's Avon River, which runs through the city center.

Although the Avon looks to be only around 5 meters wide, and about 1 meter deep in most parts, we are always amazed at how we can stand on a bridge, in the middle of the city, and watch huge trout swimming below!



Day 2 Christchurch

Our son Tim meets a leopard seal at the International Antarctic Centre (yes it's only a model).

Today you are free to explore Christchurch.

There is no shortage of things to do in Christchurch .

Highly recommended are the International Antarctic Center (located adjacent to the airport - try the wind chill room!), a gondola ride (wonderful views of the region), a tram ride through the center of the city, a punt ride on the Avon, or perhaps a tour of Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

And if time permits, take a drive to the lovely sea side village of Akaroa.

An awesome experience

Located on Bank's Peninsula, this French influenced village offers a variety of interesting shops and restaurants, and a wonderful waterfront location.

And if you want to really start your holiday on a high, do yourself a favor, and go for a swim with the dolphins.

This is one of those once in a lifetime experiences and gives you the chance to interact with these awesome marine mammals.



Day 3 Hanmer Springs

Today you travel north on State Highway 1, to the alpine thermal resort of Hanmer Springs (1.5 hours drive).

Handy Tip

People often call it Hamner Springs, rather than Hanmer Springs, which is a dead giveaway that you are from "out of town"!

Tussock Peak Motor Lodge Hanmer Springs

Where to stay in Hanmer Springs

The village is reasonably compact, but there are several motels on the outskirts of the village. We recommend finding one close to the center of town so you don't have to drive to the pools or restaurants.

Tussock Peak Motor Lodge is our favorite. It's only a couple of minutes walk to the hot pools, shops and pubs, and we like the comfortable modern rooms.

You can search for your Hanmer Springs hotel here (remember to read customer reviews before booking).

Time to hit the hot pools!

After checking in to your hotel, throw your swimmers on, and head to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools.

The pools are set in a superb natural landscape and offer you a wide range of experiences. There are nine open-air thermal pools, three sulphur pools and four private thermal pools. There is also a sauna and steam room.

Relaxing in the hot pools at Hanmer Springs - pic courtesy hanmersprings.co.nz

They also have a spa, with a range of treatments including massages, facials, and hot stone therapy.

For the young and the young at heart, there is also a freshwater, heated pool with water slides, water toys and a picnic area.

We've been to the pools various times, and it's a wonderfully peaceful spot to just lie back and soak up the views. And if you are lucky enough to be there in winter, lazing in the pools whilst looking out at the snow capped hills is surely one of life's great experiences.

But there's a lot more to this village than just the pools

But Hanmer is not just about the pools. There are many things to do in Hanmer, from bungy jumping to jet boat rides, golf, horse riding, hiking, rafting, 4wd tours, and more.

To see what's available click here.



Day 4 & 5 Kaikoura, Whale Watch Heaven

Today you head north east from Hanmer Springs to the beautiful sea side town of Kaikoura (2 hours drive).

Where to stay in Kaikoura

Kaikoura has a wide range of places to stay, and most are either located in the township along the waterfront (the Esplanade) or on the highway.

With several options offering stunning ocean views, our regular is the Anchor Inn. It's across the road from the ocean, and we love the spacious double storey suites, with the bedrooms upstairs. There's nothing like waking up to those views. We also love the full kitchen.

You can search for your perfect place to stay in Kaikoura here.

A giant Sperm Whale off Kaikoura

Welcome to a marine wonderland

Kaikoura is a visually gorgeous location. The mountains meet the sea in Kaikoura (as pictured above), and in winter, the snow capped peaks seemingly disappear into the ocean.

There are lots of great vantage points for pictures but the local lookout off Scarborough Street is one of the best.

But of course Kaikoura is probably most well known for its marine life and sea food. Local whale watching tours give you the chance to get up close with not only whales, but seals, dolphins, and penguins, which all frequent the area.

Ahhh! Relaxing at Kean Point, Kaikoura

The whale watch tours are great fun, and the captain encourages you to "spot" for whales. When one is sighted, its quickly back to your seat before the tour boat rushes off in the direction of the whale.

The whale watch cruises are well run, but are best in the morning before the wind (and the seas) pick up.

There are several seal colonies in and around Kaikoura.

Ohau Point is about 27 kilometers north of Kaikoura on State Highway 1. There is a car park from where you can watch the colony on the rocks below.

The stunning Kaikoura countryside on a cool winter's day

There's also a track which follows Ohau Stream into the forest for a few hundred metres to a waterfall. In the cooler months, seal pups frequent the stream and pool and play in the water. Very cute!

On the way back to town, do yourself a big favor, and stop off at the legendary Ninn's Bin for a feed of local crayfish. Superb!

In Kaikoura, the Point Kean seal colony is very easy to find. Just follow the Esplanade from the center of town into Fyfe Quay and eventually to the car park. We've often observed seals very close to the car park, but be careful not to get too close. They are wild animals after all.



Day 6 Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today return south on State Highway 1 to Christchurch (2 hours drive).

The Christchurch Tramway Restaurant

Today is a good opportunity to try some of those things that you couldn't fit in on day 2.

A punt ride on the Avon River is a relaxing way to spend an hour or two.

Christchurch also has a strong cafe culture, and restaurants and eateries abound.

It is also known as the Garden City and with over 700 parks, there is lots to explore.

A perfect way to finish your trip is the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant. Sit back and relax over dinner as you're serenely transported through the city on an historic tram. What could be better than that!

You can view and book a range of Christchurch activities HERE.



Day 7 Home

Fly home.

We hope that you have enjoyed your 7 day South Island itinerary.




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