Canterbury, South Island
There are many reasons why you may consider adding Arthur's Pass National Park to your itinerary. For some, it makes a great coffee break between Christchurch and the West Coast of the South Island. For others, there is a natural beauty about it. There are even a few adrenaline challenged people who need to hike for days on end throughout the natural beauty that is New Zealand. I also do believe this is a day stop location for the Tranz-Alpine train from Greymouth to Ch-Ch.
Whatever the reason, I would definitely but the Pass on your agenda. This National Park is located just outside of Christchurch to the West, and is a good 1/2 day trek, or a solid 1-2 hour stop if you are heading through to the West Coast. There are waterfalls well within walking distance, as well as some larger extended hikes for those with more time to take in the country side.
In addition, you could even trek to my surname-sake, Carroll Hut!
Aoraki, as she is known to the Maori, is truly a sight to see. Unfortunately, sometimes this sight is not to be seen as was the case for Sarah and I on our trip to NZ this time. Mount Cook is the Western name for this mountain majesty, but plan your trip wisely if this is your only reason for trekking. Mount Cook is a very stingy mountain, who only likes to venture out in the best of weather! We had 3 different days and nights where it might have been possible to get a glimpse, and each time, rain and haze covered her.
The nice part about this however is that Mount Cook National Park is still a must do location. Beautiful 1 hour to 1 week walking tracks up to, and through magnificent glaciers will keep you well occupied. One of the most beautiful lake views you will ever see greets you at the entrance, and the view just gets better.
Without spoiling the rest of it for you, I would recommend checking out the Mount Cook National Park pages on VT!
When I was new to this country and living in unfamiliar Christchurch, half a world away from my friends and family, the Port Hills were a frequent saviour of my sanity. You can buy the most amazing postcards showing aerial shots of this penninsula, named after botanist Joseph Banks, which show clearly that this is a vast, ancient volcano crater. The views from the high roads are amazing and I constantly tell visitors to Christchurch to go check the area out for themselves - a little off the beaten path for most, but so very well worth the effort. If you look at a map of New Zealand's South Island, Banks Penninsula is the round, sticky-out bit about halfway down the East Coast.
Lyttelton Harbour, still a busy port, is where the first European settlers landed. I have always imagined how strange it must have been to climb over the Bridal Path and find themselves confronted by the vast spaces of the Canterbury Plains with the snow-capped Southern Alps in the far distance.
Akaroa is a popular township to visit for those who do explore the penninsula. Settled by the French, the name Akaroa is Maori for Long Harbour, and the harbour is one of the few places that Hectors Dolphins are found - the worlds rarest.
There are numerous other small bays and inlets - Governors Bay, Diamond Harbour, Purau and more. For those finding themselves for a few days or more at Christchurch I really do recommend you explore these areas if you possibly can - those with hire vehicles, there is no excuse!!
Coming from a sheep farming background we were expecting great things about the Canterbury Plains as we had heard of massive amounts of sheep on this flat area to the East of the Alps. During the train trip across we didn't see that many sheep and wondered whether they were higher in the hills during summer. The many hedges divided up paddocks and possibly provided wind breaks. Would be an interesting area to see during Springtime when lambing is happening.
We had a walk around Christchurch on both our first day of our holiday and our last. Both times we saw people punting on the Avon but we didn't have time to do it ourselves. This picture is of the boat shed near the hospital.
We arrived in Christchurch about 4pm and were catching the TransAlpine train at 8ish the next morning. Needless to say we only had a short leg stretch walk in Hagley Park which was about a 1/2 hour walk from our motel near the train station. Great sized park and lots of locals (and probably non locals too like ourselves) getting exercise of all sorts. Lovely relaxing place to be that best of all is of course free.
The high sheepgrazing region of central southern Canterbury known as MacKenzie Country is a beautiful area of golden tussock grasslands and lakes (photo 4) overlooked by the highest peaks of the Southern Alps.
On a clear day the combination of the stunningly milky blue water of Lake Pukaki and the snow-covered peaks of Aoraki Mt Cook and the surrounding mountains is quite jaw-droppingly beautiful. I defy anyone not to stop along the way here for a while to take a a photo or five. It's usually a scene of quiet tranquility (Lake Tekapo, 47 km away, by contrast can be positively heaving with tourists) and even if the carpark at the Lake Pukaki visitor centre is busy, you only have to drive a couple of kilometres around the lake to where a turnoff will take you down to the lake's edge near a stand of pine trees from where, if anything, the views are even more spectacular.
Omarama is a small township situated at the junction of State Highway 83 and State Highway 8.
Omarama means "Place of Light" in Maori language.
We did a brief stop for toilet break on our way to Lake Tekapo for the night.
Eventhough it is a small township with population of about 400 people, there are accommodations well catered for visitors ranging from hotels and motels, homestays, camping grounds and backpackers.
There are also pub, restaurants, winery, take away food outlets, a general store, tourist shops, and petrol stations servicing the whole town.
Activities like gliding, camping, skiing, wine tasting, fishing, kayaking, cycling, horse trekking, tramping, visiting Benmore Dam, golf and scenice flights can be arranged from Omarama.
Twizel is a town that was constructed in 1968.
The most happening place in Twizel is the Market Place where restaurants, cafe, shopping centre, supermarket are. You may make enquiries for your hiking, fishing trips, boating, canoeing, rafting, cycling, hand gliding, skiing, scenic flights trips at the Twizel Information Centre.
Twizel is a very good base to the surrounding areas.
Lake Ohau (25 mins)
Omarama (25 mins)
Lake Tekapo (35 mins)
Mt Cook (45 mins)
Farlie (65 mins)
Geraldine (95 mins)
Timaru (110 mins)
Wanaka (95 mins)
Cromwell (105 mins)
Twizel Information Centre should be the first stop for every visitor to Twizel. You could make enquries on the nearby town or make arrangements for your activities.
The Twizel Information Centre
Twizel Events Centre
Phone: (03) 435 3124
Fax: (03) 435 0537
We went to New Brighton to check out the possible VT Meeting location and take a short walk around the town.
New Brighton Pier, The New Brighton Library (Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Karoro Inutai), New Brighton Clock Tower, Sling Shot are worth a visit.
Lake Teakapo is a small town. It is recommended to stop over here to break your journey to/fro Christchurch.
The famous icons are the Church of the Good Shepherd, statue of the Sheep Dog and most importantly the spectualar view of Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook.
If you are looking for a budget backpackers, I would highly recommend Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers.
Geraldine is situated 2 hours south of Christchurch on the main highway to Mt Cook and Queenstown. This is a very convenient stopover town.
It was named originally as Talbot Forest. The name was finally changed to Geraldine in 1857 by Edward Fitzgerald which was his family name in Ireland.
Pleasant Point - 30 mins
Timaru - 40 mins
Fairlie - 50 mins
Tekapo - 60 mins
Christchurch - 2 hrs
Omarama - 2 hrs 14 mins
Mt Cook - 2 hrs 30 mins
The Geraldine i-SITE is located on the junction of Talbot St and Cox St. It is also part of the Visitor Information Network which provide information and answers to your enquiries.
It opens daily from 8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday, 10.00am - 4.00pm Weekends & Public Holidays.
Christchurch is the gateway to South Island!
Things that we did : Visit Chalice or the Millennium Cup, Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Centre, Canterbury Museum, Ferrier Fountain, Maori Totem Pole, Flora Clock - Voctoria Square, Bridge of Remembrance, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, John Cook Statue, Victoria Street bridge over the Avon River, Queen Victoria Statue, Christchurch Tramway, Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Mona Vale, Christchurch Casino.
To get to the West Coast from Christchurch, we took State Highway 73 which passes over Arthur's Pass.
Along the way you will see lots of beautiful sceneries. There are mountains, fields full of sheeps and some cows.
Visit Castle Hill, Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre, Arthur's Pass National Park, waterfall viewpoint, Arthur's Pass Village, Arthur's Pass Chapel, Lake Lyndon, Mt Rolleston, Otira Via Duct
Other recommended half-day walks at Arthur's Pass National Park are Devil’s Punchbowl, Bridal Veil, Bealey Valley and Dobson Nature Walk.
The Banks Peninsula was formed following violent eruptions by 3 volcanoes. The craters nurse the harbours of Akaroa and Lyttelton, smaller bays indent the rest of the coastline. Akaroa is the South Island’s oldest town.
Visit the Barrys Bay Cheese Factory, Akaroa War Memorial, walk the streets of Akaroa, buy a bule pearl at the Blue Pearl Centre, see the Akaroa Lighthouse, Akaroa Boating Club, Akaroa Harbour Waterfront, take the Akaroa Harbour Cruise, rent a Sea Kayaks or a Paddle Boat