When it comes to adventure activities on the South Island of New Zealand, Queenstown always gets all the attention as the adrenaline capital of the world. While there’s no denying the thrills and spills a visit to Queenstown can offer, it isn’t the only place on the island you can seek out fast-paced adventure. From Christchurch, nearly every activity you’d find in Queenstown is available in a two-hour radius—with some adventures taking place within the city limits. So, for an idea of the different heart-pumping adventures you can find in the capital of Canterbury, here’s a rundown of where you’ll find the best adventure activities near Christchurch.
Queenstown is fantastic to visit during any time of year. But as is the case with ski towns, spring is a type of shoulder, or “mud” season, considered by many as less attractive. Granted, the snow conditions may be less than ideal — and many resorts start to close — but there are numerous other things to do when visiting Queenstown in spring.
Christchurch has healthy competition when it comes to views. After all, the South Island is considered one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But even in the city it’s possible to find sweeping views of the Southern Alps and shoreline, and oftentimes finding the best views of Christchurch only requires a short drive.
To be perfectly honest, spending a single day in Wanaka isn’t enough. The chilled-out lakeside hamlet is one of New Zealand’s best towns. Unlike nearby, bustling Queenstown, which hums with travelers, Wanaka exudes a symbiotic feel where locals, visitors, farmers and nature exist in melodic harmony. If, however, you have a limited amount of time to explore the area, here are some tips for how to spend a single day in Wanaka.
Since Franz Josef Glacier and bustling Queenstown are two of the South Island’s best sites. it only makes sense that visitors want to see both while traveling in New Zealand. The problem, however, is that Franz Josef Glacier is a bit too far from Queenstown to do as a day trip. Technically, of course, it’s still possible—but expect to spend almost 10 hours driving to do the journey in a day.
Given the proximity of vineyards to town, one of Marlborough’s most popular activities is wine touring on bicycle. The valleys between the vine-lined hills are beautifully straight and flat, making for casual and easy biking conditions. Over the course of a single day, travelers on a biking wine tour from Blenheim can visit six different Marlborough wineries while enjoying the pastoral scenery. Slowly pedal past rustic farmhouses and expansive vineyards while basking in the sun of one of the driest regions in New Zealand. When you arrive at the tasting room or cellar door, you can also sample the bread and olive oil that many vineyards provide, or grab lunch at a restaurant seated amongst the vines. A benefit of touring Marlborough by bicycle is you work up an appetite while peddling between the vineyards, as well as give your body time to process the tastings.