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Things to do in

Canterbury, New Zealand

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 onboard commentary as you encounter a range of wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Set sail on a catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Take in the views from the large outdoor decks or stay inside the air-conditioned interiors with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying marine wildlife animations. Gain an insight into the habitat with scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these creatures from the crew. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel's capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

2. 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.

Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

3. 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.

Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

4. 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

5. 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. 

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 Ride

7. Christchurch: Gondola Ride

Take a ride on the Christchurch Gondola to see the beautiful Alpine scenery surrounding Christchurch city and suburbs. The gondola ride is 10-minutes each way at normal speed and each cable car stops to allow you to board and disembark safely.  Marvel at the Southern Alps to the west, and the Kaikoura Mountains to the north. To the south lies the beautiful harbor of Christchurch, and to the east is the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy 360-degree views of the plains, mountains, city, and harbor from the glass-enclosed gondola. At the summit, you can browse the souvenir shop or visit the cafe. Experience authentic Kiwi flavors as you take in the spectacular views. If you are feeling more energetic, explore one of the many walking trails like the hike to the Crater Rim. Travel back in time at the Time Tunnel experience to learn about the development of the region. The automated ride is a definite highlight with children and adults alike!

Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

8. Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

Experience dramatic glacier lakes, snow-capped mountains, and beautiful alpine walks on a small-group day trip from Christchurch. After pick-up from your hotel, journey to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, located a 4 hours' drive through spectacular and breathtaking landscapes. Visit the historic town of Geraldine. Then discover the heart of Mackenzie Country, the captivatingly turquoise Lake Tekapo, the iconic Church of Good Shepherd, and the well-recognized statue of Sheepdog. Travel through Lake Pukaki and admire stunning views of Mt. Cook from a distance. Enjoy a short scenic hike in the National Park to view the 23.5kms long Tasman Glacier which is the longest glacier in New Zealand. On your return journey, visit the Alpine Lavender Farm and capture some beautiful moments in the pristine environment.

Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo

9. 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.  

Christchurch: Tramway Restaurant 4-Course Dinner Tour

10. Christchurch: Tramway Restaurant 4-Course Dinner Tour

Climb aboard a vintage tram for a unique dinner tour of Christchurch. Admire the city’s sights illuminated for the night as you dine on a 4-course, chef prepared menu. The colonial-style Christchurch Tram has been fully refurbished inside and out to create a cozy, intimate experience. It’s fully air-conditioned for comfortable dining at any time of year. Enjoy a welcome drink on arrival. Glide past city highlights, such as the Avon River and Botanic Gardens on a 2.5-hour journey through the city center. See how the city has been rebuilt since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Popular with locals and out-of-towners, the dinner tour features chef-prepared menus in a dining car for up to 36 people. Enjoy seasonal fare served from the tram’s tiny kitchen, including a first course, main course and dessert. As well as a creative selection of innovative meals, the chefs can also cater to specific dietary requirements with prior notice.

Frequently asked questions about Canterbury, New Zealand

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Other Sightseeing Options in Canterbury, New Zealand

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,443 reviews

Was the best night ever to experience! We had a very entertaining driver, the skies gifted us with 100% visibility and the guides were so knowledgeable, friendly and passionate. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole night and feel very lucky to get up there. I’ll never forget it. Thanks to all concerned.

Amazing trip, Dan our driver and guide was very knowledgeable on surrounding and entertaining at the same time. Made the long drives seem far shorter then they were. Thanks for the great experience Dan!

We seen 3 Sperm Whales and a pod of about 200 Dusky dolphins ! It was amazing ! Would definitely recommend. Boat crew also super friendly and inviting! Can’t wait to do it again !

We loved our heli flight, not only were the views majestical! well organised, super friendly staff, running on time!

Guide was fantastic and scenery was awesome, well worth the trip. Nice touch with the starter pack.