More than just the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch is also the perfect base for taking day trips to explore the Canterbury countryside. Although it takes at least an hour to properly get outside of the city center, Christchurch is rung with an array of day trip destinations which range from the quaint to the adventurous to simply getting back to nature.
For those wanting to escape the hustle of the urban city center one of the most popular day trips from Christchurch is taking a drive around the Banks Peninsula out to the French colonial fishing outpost of Akaroa. A little over an hour from downtown Christchurch, Akaroa is the perfect venue for sipping a coffee by the waterfront while admiring the colonial architecture and tranquility of all the fishing boats lined up at harbour. An Akaroa Harbour cruise is a fantastic way to see all the beauty and serenity that the area has to offer. Akaroa is a village meant for casual wandering and is a remarkably laidback outpost which ranks as one of the top day trips from Christchurch.
Further afield of the Christchurch city center, yet still reachable as a long day trip, is the expanse of the Waipara and Kaikoura countryside which offers some of the best experiences to be found anywhere on the South Island. In Waipara, a little under an hour outside of Christchurch, the vineyards that stretch in waves over the rolling foothills produce some of the best vintages in New Zealand. As the area quickly grows in popularity as one of New Zealand’s finest wine regions, so too do the opportunities to tour the vineyards and sample some of Waipara’s best wine offerings.
North from Waipara, the rocky coastline eventually gives way to the Kaikoura Peninsula where rookeries of fur seals and teeming bird colonies punctuate a community which revolves around the sea. Home to the South Island’s best scuba diving and whale watching, Kaikoura is also the perfect spot for sitting back and enjoying a cup of freshly caught fish chowder and gazing at the snow-capped Kaikoura mountain range. For a slightly slower and more laidback option, consider riding the scenic coastal train.
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