Things to do in
Canterbury, New Zealand

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Our most recommended things to do in Canterbury, New Zealand

Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

1. Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

Take a whale watching cruise off the Kaikoura coast, and see giant sperm whales in their natural environment. Enjoy up-close encounters with a range of other wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Your experienced crew will provide scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these amazing creatures throughout the tour. Set sail in a modern catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Large outdoor decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities, and the air-conditioned interiors are fitted with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying award-winning marine wildlife animations. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

2. Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

Explore the pristine night sky, stunning summit surroundings, and sophisticated viewing technologies as expert guides share the science and stories of New Zealand's skies on a stargazing tour. Make your way up Mount John on foot to the renowned Mount John Observatory, which is in partnership with the University of Canterbury. Hear stories about the stars, galaxies, and planets from your guides. The unpolluted environment around Lake Tekapo provides outstanding conditions for observations and discoveries of the southern sky.

Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

3. Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

Cruise along the scenic Kaikoura coast as you watch for dolphins. During the cruise, you'll be able to swim with the dolphins in their natural habitat or watch their antics from the comfort of the boat. Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter the Dusky Dolphins in their natural environment. The Dusky Dolphins are some of the most interactive and acrobatic species of dolphins, making them thrilling to watch and interact with. 

Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure Tour

4. Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure Tour

Marvel at the Alpine landscapes of Hanmer Springs, and experience the adrenaline thrills of a jet boat adventure. Located approximately 90 minutes from Christchurch, the mountain town is a Mecca for fans of adventure activities, such as quad bikes, bungy jumps, white water rafting, and much more. Make your way to the jet boat base for a safety briefing. Then, travel the narrow gorges, braided shallows, and white water rapids by jet boat. Your time on the water will last at least 30 minutes, but allow one hour for the whole experience (including thorough safety briefing). Soak up the spectacular scenery as you travel the entire length of Waiau Gorge. Hold on tight as you experience the famous Hamilton jet spin!

Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

5. Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

Experience Mount Cook National Park from the sky. Enjoy a 25-minute scenic adventure that includes an alpine landing amongst the mountains. Have exceptional views of Aoraki (Mt Cook) and the surrounding snow-capped mountain ranges right from take off.  Be captivated throughout the entire flight. Explore the valleys and peaks of the national park. Journey through the Tasman Valley and over a breathtaking blue glacier lake. Experience an alpine landing on the stunning upper snowfields in the Southern Alps.  Disembark the aircraft and enjoy the elevated alpine landscape before returning to the helicopter to fly back to Mount Cook Airport. Your expert pilot will offer informative and interesting commentary throughout the flight to ensure you receive the best possible experience.

Christchurch: Vintage Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo

6. Christchurch: Vintage Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo

Experience Christchurch from different perspectives with a combined city tour by vintage tram, punt along the River Avon and cable car ride aboard the Christchurch Gondola. Climb aboard a classic, flat-bottomed boat for a delightful punt along the River Avon. Venture through the city center propelled by a boatman dressed in Edwardian costume. Set off from Worcester Street Bridge and listen to the live commentary about how the city was rebuilt after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and remains fast-growing. See the beautiful alpine scenery surrounding Christchurch and its suburbs on board the Christchurch Gondola cable car. Explore the history of the region in the unique Time Tunnel experience, and pause for refreshments at the Red Rock Café. Marvel at the Southern Alps and Kaikoura Mountains, and get 360-degree views of the plains, mountains, city and harbor from the glass-enclosed cabin. Once at the summit, purchase souvenirs in the "Shop at the Top" or go for a hike on one of the many walking trails, such as the trek to Crater Rim, formed by the volcanic activity that created Port Hills. Journey by vintage tram and see the “Garden City” at your own pace with a full-day hop-on and hop-off ticket. Explore the regenerated city center to see innovative architecture, such as a shopping complex made out of shipping containers. Listen to a fascinating commentary from your driver as you take a full circuit in just 50 minutes, or jump on and off at leisure at 17 strategic stops. Discover the vast urban space of Hagley Park, explore the boutique stores of New Regent Street and much more!

Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo

7. Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo

Climb aboard the Christchurch Gondola cable car and enjoy spectacular 360-degree views across the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps as you glide across the slopes of Mount Cavendish in the Port Hills. See as far as the city and harbor as you ride up to the summit 445 meters above sea level. Make use of the facilities at the top, such as the Time Tunnel ride, a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the region. Revive your spirits at the Red Rock Café before or after going for a walk or bike ride along the many nature trails. Take a unique sightseeing tour of the inner city aboard an antique tram as the driver provides a live and entertaining commentary. A full circuit takes 50 minutes and includes 17 stops, where you can hop on and off as often as you wish. Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Junction, Canterbury Museum, and much more.  

Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

8. Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

Fly in a skiplane and a helicopter on the same day for an unforgettable experience of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Enjoy a scenic adventure that includes a glacier snow landing. From take-off to landing, you will enjoy spectacular views! Fly up the Tasman Valley over the breathtaking blue glacier lake. See the Hochstetter Icefall and the cloud-piercing Aoraki/Mount Cook before landing on the upper snowfields of the Tasman Glacier.  Take time to enjoy this unique alpine environment before swapping aircraft and returning to Mount Cook Airport.  These mountains are covered in snow and ice all year round, and the aircraft fully shuts down on landing. You'll also see Tasman Terminal Lake, Grand Plateau, Plateau Hut, as well as the full length of the Tasman Glacier.

Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

9. Akaroa: 4WD Safari and Guided Sea-Kayaking Experience

Enjoy a memorable sea-kayaking experience from Akaroa with two departure options. No experience is necessary because the trips are run in settled safe conditions by an experienced and knowledgeable guide.  Depart from Akaroa for a scenic drive in a 4WD minivan over the crater rim of the Akaroa volcano to Pohatu Flea Bay. Learn about the region from your local guide and, during the afternoon trip, stop for photo opportunities along the way. Then, it is time to gear up and climb into the double kayaks. Your safety is the top priority and the experience can be mind-blowing with the right sea conditions. Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Flea Bay Island and the impressive island arch can be reached in settled sea conditions. Marvel at the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various seabirds, and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin.

Hanmer Springs: 35-Meter Bungy Jump off Waiau Bridge

10. Hanmer Springs: 35-Meter Bungy Jump off Waiau Bridge

Experience the adrenaline thrills of bungy jumping with a bungy jump off the Waiau Ferry Bridge in Hanmer Springs. Located less than 2 hours from Christchurch, the Alpine mountain town is a Mecca for fans of adventure activities, such as jet boats, quad bikes, paintball, white water rafting, and much more. Make your way to the bungy jump base for a briefing on how to jump off the 135-year-old Waiau Ferry Bridge. At 35 meters high, the jump is perfect for first time jumpers, or those looking for a lighter jump. Launch yourself into thin air as you plunge down towards the river. Your jump over, a jet boat will collect you and return you safely to shore. Experience a range of emotions, from an instant of fear to pure elation, in the seconds it takes you to fall down towards the river. The entire jump experience will be over in approximately 20 minutes, but the memories should last a lifetime.

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,346 reviews

My daughter and I took a scenic flight during the school holidays. The communication with us to book our flight was brilliant and text messages were responded to straight away. Everything was super efficient and we were made to feel like valued customers. Our pilot was very experienced and gave us an experience that was genuine, informative and nothing short of outstanding. My daughter wants to be a pilot now!! I can highly recommend this operation.

Such a great day out was lovely myself (mum) and little miss (4yo) on a Wednesday as it wasn't that busy the staff are very approachable and informative we got a good look at all the animals and we got to see the cheaters as they sometimes are hard to see which was amazing bring on the day you can watch the lions eat up close and we will be back in a heart beat. ❤️

That the most wonderful time. Ben our guide was an absolute gem & made the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable. We saw seals, penguins & many varieties of sea birds. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable & I certainly learnt a lot. Would thoroughly recommend it to anyone visiting Akaroa

This was a magical experience which we would recommend to anyone. Pilot was knowledgable and informative. Still buzzing from the experience A must do!

This was well worth it. Got a lot of good information and such a thrill seeing a whale so close