As of this writing, Americans cannot visit New Zealand due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, so use this story to plan future trips.
Whether it’s your first time in New Zealand or you’ve been there for a while on the Working Holiday Visa, Christchurch is an underrated destination that deserves to be on your itinerary. As well as being one of the largest cities on the South Island – making it a great place to catch a cheap flight and stock up on supplies for an epic road trip – it’s also a base ideal for further exploring the Canterbury area. Here are three of my favorite places to take a day trip from Christchurch, all within a two hour drive of the city center and accessible by car, shuttle or train – in case you haven’t. want to learn to drive on the left side of the road on the right side of the car.
Distance from city center: One hour and 20 minutes.
Why should you go: Located along the Banks Peninsula, Akaroa is often referred to as “New Zealand’s most French town,” which makes sense as it is the only French colony in the whole country. Come for the seaside scenery and stay for the food, nature cruises, kayak tours, hiking trails, and the chance to visit the Giant’s House, a Gaudi-style artistic garden designed by sculptor Josie Martin.
How to get there without a car: The Akaroa French Connection bus departs daily from the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, with round-trip tickets available for $ 35 (NZD $ 50). Discounted tickets can also be found through Book Me, a popular New Zealand promotions website.
Distance from city center: 90 minutes.
Why should you go: While the main attraction here is the Hanmer Springs thermal pools and spa, it’s worth leaving an hour or so to hike the Conical Hill Loop trail, which takes you on a 1.7 mile zig-zag journey. through ancient forests to beautiful valley views.
How to get there without a car: Hanmer Connection offers shuttles from Rolleston Avenue in Christchurch door to door to the thermal pools for a $ 35 (NZD $ 50) round trip so you can visit for the day or $ 20 (NZD $ 30) one way if you prefer stay. .
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Distance from city center: Two o’clock.
Why should you go: What began centuries ago as a popular hunting route between the Maori Islands is now home to the expansive 148-acre Arthur’s Pass National Park in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Full of family-friendly hiking trails as well as several backcountry hiking trails, the park offers a wide range of habitats depending on which part you visit – the eastern sections feature beech forests, while that the west side is home to vast rivers and rainforests. and the central areas teeming with majestic snow-capped mountains and impressive glaciers.
How to get there without a car: Several shuttle options are available from Christchurch via Atomic Travel and East West Coaches – each offers one-way tickets for $ 35 ($ 50 NZD) or round-trip tickets for $ 70 ($ 100 NZD) – while Travel sites like Viator offer options for guided day trips (prices vary). From Christchurch, you can also opt for an epic journey through the Southern Alps aboard the TranzAlpine train, which goes through Arthur’s Pass to get to Greymouth on the west coast (tickets start at $ 41 or $ 59 NZD).