Christchurch is New Zealand’s oldest and largest established city on the South Island. The city is a unique blend of folklore and history mixed with new and innovative buildings and artwork etched into the all-consuming beauty of the Canterbury Region. There are limitless things to do in Christchurch that can be included in anyone’s New Zealand holiday, plus much more not far away.
Whether you’re looking for a serious adventure, a mellow experience, or anything in between, day tours from Christchurch are an exceptional way to explore this spectacular region.
Top Christchurch Day Trips
Follow this guide for need-to-know details on the best day trips from Christchurch.
Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo
Journey to New Zealand’s highest peak, Mount Cook for an exceptionally beautiful day. On a tour, begin your day bright and early as you get picked up in the city for a 4-hour drive through some of New Zealand’s most epic scenery. Before arriving at Mount Cook National Park, your group will make a pit stop in Geraldine for a cheese tasting before continuing on towards Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki.
Lake Tekapo is a beautiful turquoise lake that gets its lovely shade from the runoff of glaciers and the Southern Alps. Less than 1000 people call the town of Lake Teapo home, making this stop even more special. On the shores of Lake Tekapo sits the famed Church of the Good Shepherd built in the mid-1930s. Lake Pukaki is another turquoise lake on the list of stops before reaching Mount Cook National Park, adding another highlight to this epic experience.
Once you arrive at Mount Cook National Park, you’ll be treated to a lunch buffet at the iconic Hermitage Hotel. After lunch, your group will take a small hike to a lookout over New Zealand’s longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier.
On your way back to Christchurch, there will be one more special stop at the Alpine Lavender Farm.
This Tranzalpine train trip is one of the most dramatically beautiful train rides in the world that takes you across the highest pass in the South Alps, Arthur’s Pass. Bright and early you will get picked up from the city and taken to Springfield to board the train.
Once all aboard, the train will set off for Arthur’s Pass, traversing through the snowcapped mountains of the Southern Alps, crossing the rolling plains of the Canterbury Region, and passing other intensely beautiful landscapes. You can experience the natural beauty unabridged from the open-air car.
After you’ve arrived at Arthur’s Pass National Park, you will visit the humble village of Otira before some sightseeing and then going back to Arthur’s Pass for a short hike and lunch. On your way back to Christchurch your guide will also take you to a sheep farm for a sheep shearing demonstration.
After getting picked up from the city, you’ll take a road trip to Kaikoura through North Canterbury and the Waipara wine region. Once you get to Kaikoura, a boat will be waiting for you to take you on an unforgettable adventure into one of New Zealand’s most diverse marine habitats.
From the ship, you’ll be looking for sperm whales, orcas, dusky dolphins, humpback whales, blue whales, and hectors dolphins. You will also be able to spot albatross and fur seals, plus have the added bonus of an indescribable backdrop of snowcapped mountains meeting the sea.
After the boat trip, you’ll have time for lunch before heading to a winery in North Canterbury for a short wine tasting before heading back to Christchurch.
People love penguins and what better way to see them than in their natural habitat? Enjoy a day out of the city exploring the wild, rugged coast of Flea Bay and Pohatu, home to the largest colony of Australasian Little Penguins on New Zealand’s mainland. Get up close and personal with these beloved flightless creatures as you learn about the conservation efforts being used to save these adorable birds.
Throughout the day you’ll be rewarded with insanely gorgeous scenery, a cheese tasting, lunch, and round trip transportation. You can upgrade your package to include a visit to a red beech forest and a hike around the clifftops.
Lord of the Rings Tour to Edoras
New Zealand will forever be synonymous with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Bring the film to life as you journey your way to the magical movie town of Edoras. You’ll also explore the backdrop of the stunning Helms Deep and the Misty Mountains.
A short hike around the summit will leave you breathless, not from the hike itself, but because of the supreme views of the entire region from above.
This magical movie day is one of the best day trips for any Lord of the Rings fan. Transportation and lunch are included for you so you can just enjoy the day.
Not far out of the city is a beautiful hike along the rim of an extinct volcano, aptly called the Crater Rim Walk. The hike is about just under 9km and provides striking views of Pegasus Bay, the snowcapped Southern Alps as well as the endless Pacific Ocean.
During your hike, you’re sure to see loads of wildlife like birds and marine animals. There are options for group tours as well as private tours both of which come guided and with lunch, hiking gear, and transportation.
To add to the already impressive beauty of this hike, for the majority of the year, wildflowers are covering the entire area.
Experience the Christchurch area from a different perspective by spending the day on the water kayaking. From the sea, you’ll have the chance to explore the different bays, sandy shores, and rocky cliffs that surround and protect the city as you make your way to Quail Island.
Once at Quail Island you’ll have a beach picnic and time to explore the island. The island is uninhabited, making it a serene and tranquil place to hike and walk around or just relax on the sandy beaches.
Waipara Wine Valley
Take a magical journey through the Waipara wine region in the North Canterbury region. After getting picked up at your accommodation, your driver and guide will take you to 4 boutique wineries with tastings at each. Known for their pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc, you’ll visit Pegasus Bay, Waipara Springs, Greystone Winery, and the Waipara Hilla Winery.
Your day of wine will also include a lunch made from fresh local ingredients perfectly paired with your favorite wine selection. Your driver remains with you throughout the day so you can fully indulge in New Zealand’s finest wines.
Hanmer Springs is one of the best attractions to visit on a one day trip from Christchurch. Less than two hours from the city you can find thermal pools and spas, natural hot pools, jet boat rides through scenic river routes, white water rafting, mountain biking, even horseback riding, and bungee jumping. There are such varying attractions here, you might just need to spend more than one day here.
There are so many options when choosing a day trip from Christchurch. Whether you’re looking to experience the wild west coast, visit popular tourist attractions or just pretend to be a local, this wonderful South Island city, is a great place to be.
One of the best road trips from Christchurch is exploring the wild, rugged coastline. This day trip brings you to Lyttelton Harbour, Corsair Bay, Cass Bay, Rapaki, and Governor’s Bay as well as the beautiful Birdlings Flat Beach.
Your excursion also includes a cruise for two hours, in search of the real locals, hector dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, and the little blue penguin. Your trip also includes stopping at a cheese factory for a tasting and more sightseeing. Your guide will take you to the popular, sign of the Takahe, a park set on the hills above Christchurch. From here you can take the perfect photos of the city of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.
Spend a thrilling day far above the city climbing Cattlestop Crag. Before arriving at the climbing spot, you’ll visit a quaint little town called Lyttleton where you can grab a delicious cup of coffee or do some window shopping.
Once you get to the crag, you’ll be given all the appropriate gear as well as a crash course on safety and how to use all the equipment. The area has over 2,000 climbing routes with varying degrees of difficulty, perfect for beginners and more advanced climbers.
Your lunch, which is provided for you, is taken at the top of the cliff with gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding area. After lunch, your guide will take you on a few more climbs as well as abseiling before heading back to Christchurch.
Continue planning your trip to New Zealand!
- Where to Stay in Christchurch
- Awesome Things to do in Queenstown
- Best Things to do in Nelson
- New Zealand Travel Guides
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