Christchurch, the primary metropolitan center of the Canterbury area, is a charming and highly livable city, offering the best of both small-town friendliness and navigability with urban energy, culture, and verve. The warm hearted locals here speak English in a kind of mesmerizing dialect and are proud of their town for some very obvious reasons.
Beyond the hills of Bank Peninsula, the coast of New Zealand is a romantic treasure trove of secret beaches and hidden bays, and the view from boat gliding along the shore reveals glimpses of protected wildlife occupying a seemingly untouched green world. North of the city are vineyards and further inland, the fairy tale mountains are a wonderful place to hike during the summer and ski during the snowy season.
Here are a few suggestions to keep you busy in the Canterbury area:
-Mountain biking: This is a great way to explore the turquoise lakes of Mackenzie Country. Rent a bike in town or bring your own.
-Skiing: Mount Hutt is a great place to ski during the winter. Find a guide or local who can point out Mt. Cook, also called Aoraki, the tallest peak in New Zealand.
-Whale watching in Kaikoura: Whale watch or arrange to swim with dolphins here.
-Wildlife spotting: Take a kayaking trip or wildlife spotting adventure by boat.
-Spa relaxation: Head to Hanmer Springs, immerse yourself in the famous thermal pools, and forget your worries.
- Hiking in Arthur's Pass National Park: Keep your eyes open for New Zealand's terrific native Kea, a species of parrot.
The best way to appreciate Christchurch is to rent a cabin in the mountains and stay long enough to experience a full season. If you only have a week or two to spend here, book a vacation rental in town and experience the best of natural wilderness close to a thriving city. By the time you leave, you may already be planning a return trip.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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