Canterbury is the largest region in New Zealand, occupying almost a third of the South Island. Its main city, Christchurch, is the second most populous city in NZ and the most populous in the South Island. With its international airport, it is a must for many visitors. Still recovering from the terrible earthquake that destroyed its city center in 2011, the city is often considered secondary in terms of tourism. It is nevertheless the starting point for one of the country's major attractions, the Tranzalpine, a train connecting Christchurch to the West Coast. A great day option is to get off at Arthur’s Pass for a few hours and hike there, before returning to Christchurch.
The Banks Peninsula, 1.5 hours southeast of Christchurch, is a volcanic outgrowth, the ancient caldera of a huge volcano that rose from the sea 6 million years ago. In its center, you will reach Akaroa, a charming village nestled in the bay of the same name. In addition to the old-fashioned atmosphere of this former French colony, nature and wildlife are king here. Through several activities including a cruise in the bay, you can observe many endemic species such as the Hector's dolphin, the little penguin, the albatross and the fur seal. An operator even allows swimming with dolphins, and in Flea Bay an excellent kayak excursion allows you to approach these species in a wild and protected area.
The peninsula is also a great playground for hikers, who can cover it in a few days during an immersion that we highly recommend: The Banks Track, a path that crisscrosses private land and therefore very little used.
If you are fond of comfort and exceptional experiences, Pigeon Bay is home to one of our biggest favourites: Annandale accommodation, with its sumptuous villas isolated from the world in wild coves and inaccessible to the public.
North of Christchurch, well known for its wildlife enthusiasts, Kaikoura is the ideal place for whale watching, especially the sperm whale. In order to avoid the tourist side of cruises, we recommend that you opt for an airplane flight, a great way to observe cetaceans. On the road to Christchurch, wine lovers will enjoy a tasting in one of the small vineyards in the Waipara region.
In the mountainous interior, travellers can bask in the natural hot springs of Hanmer Springs, a very pleasant small spa resort, or Maruia, for an immersion even further away from tourists.
Further south towards Tekapo, if you think outside the box, pack your bags for a night or two near Methven. At the foot of the New Zealand Alps, lovers of seclusion can hike in magnificent and almost deserted landscapes, or be tempted by a mountain bike trip or the best rafting trip in the country.
A very large and rare diversity, Canterbury could itself be the subject of an unforgettable journey. Between sea and mountain, geothermal energy and wild life, according to your profile we will be able to include the best of this region in your itinerary.
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