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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.

Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

3. Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

Experience an award-winning nature cruise of Akaroa Habor. Discover wildlife like dolphins, seals, penguins, and other seabirds. Gaze upon giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.  Travel on a modern catamaran, which is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. There's lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating for shade and shelter. Inside, for your convenience you'll find a bar and washrooms. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and the history of the harbour. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

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.

Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

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

Fly in a ski plane 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, 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. These mountains are covered in snow and ice all year round, and the aircraft fully shuts down on landing.  Then, swap aircraft and return to Mount Cook Airport. During the tour, you'll also see Tasman Terminal Lake, Grand Plateau, Plateau Hut, as well as the full length of the Tasman Glacier.

Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

6. Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

Take in some of New Zealand’s most impressive mountains during a helicopter ride. Land among them for even more spectacular views and fantastic photo opportunities. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to enjoy your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley over the ice river. Take in the ice pinnacles and crevasses before flying onwards amongst the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated landing site to enjoy stunning views of some of New Zealand’s highest mountains. You will have plenty of time to take incredible photos before returning to the hangar.

Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

7. 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. 

From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

8. From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

Enjoy a small-group tour of the most iconic Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand, specially designed for fans of the films. Within minutes of leaving Queenstown, reach the Glenorchy Road, which follows the edges of the Great Lake Wakatipu, and has been voted  one of the top 10 drives in the world. Admire snowcapped mountains that arise around every corner of the journey. Your first stop will be the 12 Mile Delta. Here, enjoy a short nature walk over the 12 Mile canyon footbridge and spot trout and salmon in the crystal-clear water below. Learn about the local flora and fauna and visit the locations, where scenes from the films were shot. Next, refuel with a delicious morning or afternoon tea picnic near the famous Glenorchy red shed and wharf. Once you have eaten enough to satisfy a Hobbit, adventure further into the World Heritage Mt. Aspiring National Park, home of Lothlorien Forest, where you will have the opportunity to snap some photographs dressed as your favorite Lord of the Rings character with replica swords from the trilogy. Next, head up the Dart Valley through "Paradise" to Isengard for some time to enjoy this amazing location in this spectacular glacier-carved valley. Stories and behind-the-scenes secrets will be shared by your passionate local guides on the way back to Queenstown.

Mount Cook: 3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier

9. Mount Cook: 3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier

Enjoy a once in a lifetime heli hiking experience on the Tasman Glacier in the Aoraki (Mount Cook) National Park. Begin your adventure with a flight from Mount Cook airport over the gorgeous Tasman Glacier Lake and ice formations. Venture on to the surprisingly undulating ice terrain, in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, Aoraki, and Mount Tasman. Be equipped with glacier boots and crampons and spend 2 hours in another world in the mountains. On the return flight home, you will fly close to the massive 1,000-meter high Hochstetter Icefall on the eastern face of Aoraki. Take in the picturesque landscapes that are covered in beautiful white snow and ice year round. 

Christchurch: Vintage Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo

10. 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. 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, browse the "Shop at the Top" or hike one of the many walking trails, such as the trek to volcanic-formed Crater Rim. 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!

Frequently asked questions about Canterbury, New Zealand

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,502 reviews

One of the most incredible scenic flights I've ever taken for sure, and an absolute must-do while you're in Queenstown. The staff were fantastic, our flight time had to moved slightly due to availability but the admin team went above and beyond to ensure the time suited us as we were departing Queenstown straight after. Our pilot was entertaining & informative, the flight itself was quite bumpy due to wind but he talked throughout the flight explaining what was happening and ensuring everyone felt comfortable. The flight went over tonnes of snowy mountains and glaciers around Queenstown, with an alpine landing in a gorgeous spot with panoramic views. It was absolutely freezing outside, -4 for us, so take warm clothes and gloves in winter. On the way to and from the landing we saw Skippers Canyon and some incredible braided rivers. The only downside is that two people sit in the middle seats without a window but we were able to switch seats at the snow landing so everyone got a turn.

Dan has been the best tour guide during my entire trip to New Zealand! He’s full of information & knowledge about the area & had lots of interesting points about the geography of the Aoraki / Mount Cook areas! The tour was extremely fun, with great commentary by Dan, great music (and excellent chats), as well as the scenic views and added options made the trip so much more amazing! Absolutely beautiful views everywhere you looked! Thanks again for the great tour Dan :) definitely will come back to see all of NZ!

It was a fantastic tour with a wonderful tour guide who looked after us from start to finish. He was very knowledgeable, kind and caring and the tour was well paced throughout the day.

wonderful guide anujk and always with the good energy, thank you greetings from Tahiti

The weather was great, the staff were great- had an awesome experience!