The Ultimate Best Day Trips From Christchurch, New Zealand Guide Covering Near & Far!


Having been fortunate enough to call Christchurch home for a year (and hoping to do so again in the future) we got to know it and the surrounding areas quite well doing many Christchurch day trips. It’s a small city but what it lacks in size it makes up for with its outdoor lifestyle and position on the south island. It makes a perfect gateway to exploring the wonders of Southern New Zealand so as you might imagine there are some incredible day trips from Christchurch to take whether they be on the outskirts of the city or at the start of the Alpine region. From surfing to snowboarding, sipping on wine or seal spotting there are some incredible places to visit near Christchurch, it has something for everyone and for us made a perfect base for exploring the country. Here’s our rundown of our top day trips from Christchurch New Zealand.

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Practical Information For Your Trip To Christchurch:

How to get to Christchurch/ Transport Around New Zealand

Flying:

Christchurch is the second largest city in New Zealand (Yes bigger than the capital!) and the largest on the South Island meaning it is well connected both to the rest of New Zealand and internationally. When you visit Christchurch you’ll likely arrive at the airport!

The airport has regular connections with several daily flights to places like Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Brisbane as well as many smaller destinations across New Zealand.  These routes are offered by carriers like Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar so prices are competitive.

Flying over the mountains of New Zealand (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Flying Over New Zealand Can Be Spectacular!

Further afield Christchurch is connected to Singapore and Dubai which is ideal for long haul travellers. Other destinations include Guangzhou, Hong Kong and the Kiwi favourite Fiji! 

Christchurch isn’t as competitive or convenient as Auckland for long haul travel but many travellers connect via Melbourne, Sydney or Auckland but that can mean taking 3 flights rather than 2 when heading to the US or Europe. It is very easy to visit Christchurch from anywhere in the world!

Book Your Flights To and From Christchurch Here:

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Bus/ Coach:

New Zealand has an extensive system of long haul and inter city buses that connect most of the major cities, towns and places of interest. Christchurch is a hub for the South Island making it a good starting point.

Many budget travellers and backpackers choose to go for the popular “Hop on Hop off” options available with most NZ bus companies. Or if you’re staying around a little longer you can also book tickets from one city to another.

Some of the companies to look at are: InterCity, Kiwi Experience, TranZit, Busbud

Find And Book Transport Around New Zealand Here:

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Bus Tour:

Another cool option which many take is to do a bus tour. These are like regular coach journeys with stops along the way! It’s a great way to do some of the best road trips from Christchurch.

For example, the bus from Queenstown to Christchurch is a long trip (8hrs +) through some amazing landscapes. What many people do is to take it as a day tour where the driver/ guide will stop along the way at spots like Lake Tekapo or even Mt Cook National Park. It’s the perfect way to break up the long journey and not feel like you’ve missed out along the way!

See Prices For One Way Tours From Christchurch To Queenstown Here

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Trains:

Train travel in New Zealand is very limited. Rail travel is mostly a tourist pursuit and can be quite expensive but also an experience in itself. There are two great train trips from Christchurch but it’s an expensive way to travel.

Christchurch only has two routes: The Tranzalpine and the Coastal Pacific routes. Both of these are more commonly used as tourist/ scenic routes rather than just for transportation purposes but they do cover some major places on the South Island.

 (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Day tours from Christchurch New Zealand: The Train Isn’t A Great Option
Destinations reachable via train from Christchurch are:

Rangiora, Kaikoura, Blenheim, Picton (Coastal Pacific)
Arthurs Pass, Moana, Greymouth (Tranzalpine)

From Picton the ferry to Wellington can be taken and the train then continues through the North Island connecting with Auckland via Palmerston North, Tongariro National Park and Hamilton.

See Prices For Tranzalpine Tours Here

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Rental Cars/ Campervans

Probably the most popular way to travel around New Zealand is to either rent a car or a campervan, especially if you want to do most of these day tours from Christchurch New Zealand.

New Zealand is a relatively small country so you can cover a lot of ground and there are some wonderful road trips from Christchurch.

Public transport isn’t the best in New Zealand and many tourist destinations are rural and so awkward to reach. Having the freedom of your own transport here really makes a huge difference. Many of the places to visit near Christchurch outside of the suburbs will need a car!

Driving a car through a ford in the Mountains of New Zealand. (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Road trips from Christchurch: Our Trusty Jona!

Many visitors rent out either campervans, RVs or even just cars. The camping, motel and hotel facilities around the country make it easy to do.

Many backpackers choose to buy a car or small converted self contained camper and stay at freedom camps before selling their vehicle on before leaving.

See Prices For Car Rental In New Zealand Here


Best time to visit Christchurch:

Seasons in New Zealand:

Summer: December – February
Autumn: March – May
Winter: June – August
Spring: September – November

Christchurch being in New Zealand has the opposite seasons to what you might be used to in the Northern Hemisphere, so bear that in mind when you plan your summer holidays. The Best time to visit Christchurch for your trip might not be when you imagine!!

It has 4 traditional seasons characterised by cool but sunny winters and warm summers. It also benefits from the Alpine rain shadow so is often sunny year round.

Plenty of places to go near Christchurch are out in nature so good weather really makes the difference! Also some Christchurch sightseeing tours are only available in certain seasons.

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Swimming At Sumner in The Summer! Road trips from Christchurch don’t need to be far to be great!

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So When Is The Best time to visit Christchurch?

Figuring out the best time to visit Christchurch is depends on what you plan on doing here and which places to go near Christchurch you are most interested in.

Winter is great for crisp cool and sunny days. Mountains are blanketed in snow making it picturesque and of course providing plenty of skiing and snowboarding. However it’s going to be too cold to swim and some hikes and mountain passes might be closed.

Summer is much more lively! The weather is warm but can be more unpredictable, it is perfect to indulge in watersports though but can get much more crowded and expensive.

When booking your day tours from Christchurch be sure to check what activities you want to do in those locations!

Sumner beach sunset (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Summer Sunset At Sumner Beach: Is it the best time to visit Christchurch?

For us spring is the best time to visit Christchurch as the snow is still hanging around the temperatures are much nicer. It’s not yet busy either and offers an ideal compromise!

Bear in mind that the weather in New Zealand is very changeable and in the mountains it’s likely to be cold or at least chilly all year round. The water around the country is also still quite chilly even in summer!


Where to stay in Christchurch

When you visit Christchurch you’ll want to place yourself in the the best possible place to explore.

Our favourite area of Christchurch has got to be Sumner with its laid back vibe and beach lifestyle and it is one of the best places to visit near Christchurch in itself.

However if you’re only in town for a few days and want to make the most of your time we recommend staying in the CBD area close to the main transport links, tour operators and other facilities. It also has the highest concentration of accommodation available and will make it easier when getting picked up for tours when you head off on your day trips from Christchurch NZ.

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Places to go near Christchurch : Sumner Was Our Local Hangout!

Best Budget Backpacker: Jailhouse Accommodation Hostel

Fancy spending the night in a cell in Christchurch? Ok, maybe not part of your original plan but in this converted 1874 jailhouse you can do just that and even be allowed on day release to explore the city and its surroundings! Despite what you might think the former prison has been lovingly restored and turned into a unique and fun place to base yourself. With dorms and private rooms at great prices it offers more than just a bed for the night but a cool and historic experience too!

See Prices For Jailhouse Accommodation Here

Best Mid Range Option: BreakFree on Cashel

This is a simple no nonsense hotel at great place. Sleek, modern, clean and centrally located it offers the perfect budget base for exploring Christchurch and beyond. For such a budget friendly hotel is also offers a restaurant, room service and a gym!

See Prices For BreakFree on Cashel Here

Best Outer City Budget Option: Cave Rock Guest House

A small family run guest house within a stones throw of the beach front the Cave Rock Guest House offers something different to the city centre options. The traditional wooden panelled beach style house offers a local and homely feel and is the perfect way to unwind and escape the city!

See Prices For Cave Rock Guest House Here

Find More Options Here:



Booking.com

Keep An Eye Out For Our Guide To Christchurch Soon!




Day Trips From Christchurch Without A Car/ Day Trips From Christchurch By bus 

As we mentioned above, travelling around New Zealand quite often requires you to have your own transport due to the rural nature of many of the “Must See” places. Many of the longer road trips from Christchurch are in countryside locations.

In all honesty, having your own transport means you can really make the most of your time here and especially on many of the Christchurch day trips where time is of the essence.

The amount of road trips from Christchurch on offer make having your own transport really worthwhile.

View down over lyttelton and the banks peninsula from the Port Hills (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Day Trips Christchurch: The Port Hills and Lyttelton Are Accessible Without A Car

Day trips from Christchurch by bus:

We’ve tried to include a mixture of trips here with many close to the city being able to be reached by public transport. With some further afield you might need to consider organised day tours from Christchurch or taking intercity buses and doing it at a slower pace. Many of the places to visit near Christchurch in the suburban areas can be reached on public transport, but many further afield are more difficult.

Many of these places are popular Christchurch day tours too and most can be organised from the CBD or online.

See Prices For Car Rental In New Zealand Here



Best Day Trips From Christchurch: Within The Christchurch Area

You don’t need to travel far outside of the city for some of the best day trips from Christchurch NZ, in fact most of these are in the suburbs or just beyond. They make easy and accessible day tours from Christchurch!

That is the real beauty of Christchurch and why the people who live here have such an outdoors lifestyle! Many great road trips from Christchurch don’t require you to go too far and lots of these here are day trips from Christchurch by bus.

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Port HIlls

On the outskirts of the City of Christchurch is the Port Hills which dominates the local landscape. Formed from the remains of an extinct volcano which erupted millions of years ago the crater rim forms the upper most peaks. Collapsed on one side crater is filled with azure blue sea water forming a unique and breathtaking landscape. It’s one of the best Christchurch day trips for sure.

The Port Hills offer many different activities from hiking to mountain biking at the dedicated Adventure park. The walks here can range from quite strenuous or just a gentle stroll from the road to the many viewpoints. There is also a gondola for those who can’t hike or drive and a shuttle bus runs from the city to its base. Driving to the “Sign of the Kiwi” is a common stop off point for both hikes and the bike park and our favourite viewpoint is from the humorously named “Coopers Knob” on the far end of the hills. With the amount of things to do around here it’s one of the best places to visit near Christchurch.

How Far (Time/ Distance) – 

Christchurch to Sign of The Kiwi – 10km / 17 mins

Christchurch to Coopers Knob – 19.5km / 34 mins

Christchurch to Bridle Path Summit Parking – 13km / 23 mins

The best way is either to take the gondola or hike up from either Lyttelton or Ferrymead. You can also drive up Summit Road and walk up the bridal path from there.

Looking out over Banks Peninsula from Coopers Knob in The Port Hills (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Things to do in Canterbury New Zealand: The View From Coopers Knob!

Public Transport Options? –

Take the shuttle bus from outside Canterbury Museum to the Gondola. Once at the summit you can take many of the walking trails around the rim and down to the bays. Or take public bus no: 28 to the lower gondola station which is cheaper.

An option for one way travel would be to walk down to Lyttelton and take the public bus back into the city from there or vice versa.

You can also take the bus both ways if you walk up and down via Lyttelton or walk up and over from Ferrymead/ Mount Pleasant area and take the bus back to the city from Lyttelton for a cheaper option.

See Prices For The Gondola Here

See Prices Port Hills Tours Here

See Prices The Adventure Park Here

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Cass Bay/ Corsair Bay

Part of the Port Hills but down on the coast below there are many incredible bays and beaches to explore. Coming down to Cass and Corsair bay is one of the best family day trips from Christchurch.

Accessible from the main road and just a short drive from the city this region it is an ideal place to go for a swim. The waters in the bay are much warmer and calmer than those of the surrounding beaches due to them being sheltered and shallower making them much more pleasant and relaxing! If you are looking for swimming places to visit near Christchurch then this is a great area.

There are also a number of great walks along the coast here visiting many other bays along the way, it’s also a great place to come kayaking too. This is one of the best Christchurch day trips for swimming and relaxing!

The sheltered cass bay and Corsair Bay on the Banks Peninsula, (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Corsair Bay In The Summer! One of the best day trips from Christchurch by bus

How Far (Time/ Distance) – 

Christchurch to Corsair Bay – 13.3km / 18 mins

Christchurch to Rapaki – 16.3km / 22 mins

Public Transport Options?

Bus route no: 28 goes from Christchurch to Rapaki where both bays are a short walk away making one of the best Day trips from Christchurch by bus.

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New Brighton Beach & Southshore

One of the main beaches on the outskirts of Christchurch is New Brighton Beach and the nearby Southshore reserve. The one time bustling seaside town is a shadow of its former pre earthquake self but it still offers some of the best surfing in the area and an interesting place to explore as well as seeing the impact of the quake.

Southshore is an interesting feature of the landscape in this region as it’s a long sandbar with the ocean on one side and the estuary on the other making it one of the most unique places to visit near Christchurch. The area features miles of unspoilt beaches and a short but beautiful dun walk in the reserve at the end. The estuary here is so narrow you can see right across to Sumner beach, another one of our recommended Christchurch day trips!

Dunes in New Brighton Beach, (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Day Trips Christchurch: New Brighton Beach

How Far (Time/ Distance) – 

Christchurch to New Brighton Beach Pier – 8.6 km / 13 mins

Christchurch to South Shore – 12 km / 17 mins

Public Transport Options?

Buses run frequently from Christchurch bus station to New Brighton it’s one of the easiest day trips from Christchurch by bus. It’s one of the easiest day trips around Christchurch.

Take the Y Line to New Brighton. You can then take bus 60 down to the bottom of South Shore or walk.

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Lyttelton

The charming harbour village of Lyttelton sits in the extinct volcano crater of the Port Hills. Accessible now only via the lyttelton tunnel, or by hiking over the hills themselves it is isolated from the rest of the city by the volcano itself. Used as the main port for the city and region since colonial times it became known as the “Gateway to Canterbury”. 

The town is also a site of historic and cultural importance with many of the oldest examples of colonial buildings in the country. The Saturday markets here are famous for their local and artisan products and the village itself is considered quite hipster these days many many cool bars, shops and restaurants. A day in Lyttelton is one of the classic Christchurch day trips!

Old shop facades in Lyttelton, (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Best Day Trips from Christchurch New Zealand: Shops and Restaurants of Lyttelton

How Far (Time/ Distance) – 

Christchurch to Lyttelton -11.4 km / 15 mins

Public Transport Options?

Bus route no: 28 goes from Christchurch to Lyttelton. It’s one of the best day trips from Christchurch by bus.

It is also possible to hike over to the town from the Port Hills starting in Ferrymead/ Mt Pleasant.

See Prices For A Lyttelton Tour Here

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Taylors Mistake

One of our favourite places around Christchurch is the beach of Taylors Mistake and the walks around the Godley Head peninsula. The black volcanic sands of the beautiful beach make a perfect starting point for a hike or for some of the best beginner surf in the region too. Taylors Mistake is one of the best family day trips from Christchurch with its beach and easy walks.

The Godley Head trail offers some of the most dramatic and stunning coastal views in the region as well as some lovely examples of the Kiwi “bach”, a small hut by the beach used as a second home by the sea. It was our favourite place to go walking on a lovely sunny day! In terms of proximity to the city this is probably our favourite on our Christchurch day trips guide!

Godley Head coastal walk from Taylors Mistake (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Day Tours Christchurch: The Amazing Godley Head Walk is one of the best family day trips from Christchurch.

How Far (Time/ Distance) – 

Christchurch to Taylors Mistake -15.3 km / 22 mins

Public Transport Options?

Take the P Line to Sumner from Christchurch Bus Station and either walk over the hills to Taylors Mistake or take an Uber! There is no public transport that goes all the way unfortunately, so it’s not one of the day trips from Christchurch by bus.

See Prices For Godley Head Tours Here

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Sumner

One of the most well known beaches around Christchurch, the seaside suburb of Sumner has a village like feel to it and is the ideal escape. With 2 km of beach this popular spot always has room for everyone and is one of the best Christchurch day trips especially in the summer. From the wild end of the beach characterised by the entrance to the estuary and Shag Rock to the famous surf breaks beyond and of course cave rock in between. It has areas for kite surfers, great breaks for beginners and advanced surfers alike as well as calmer areas towards Scarbrough for swimming.

The area itself is characterised by beach shack type houses towards the cliffs and more modern glass fronted properties down at the front. There is a real community spirit and feel to Sumner with many festivals, bars, restaurants, a skate park and even an independent cinema down here. It’s one of our favourite places to visit near Christchurch.

Surfing at Sumner beach (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Sumner: One of the easiest day tours from Christchurch

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Sumner Beach -11.8 km / 16 mins

Public Transport Options?

Take the P Line to Sumner from Christchurch Bus Station


Best Day Trips From Christchurch NZ: Within A Few Hours

Further outside of Christchurch and into Greater Canterbury and beyond there is a plethora of things to do and see. Moving more out of the city the sights become even more magnificent and you can see just why New Zealand is a nature lovers paradise.

Many of these day trips from Christchurch will unfortunately require you to have your own transport or take one of the organised Christchurch day tours. Many are accessible via some form of public transport but it might be unreliable or hard to time to return the same day and will need some planning!

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Akaroa/ Banks Peninsula

A trip to Akaroa one of the classic Christchurch day trips and many from the city go here for weekend breaks too. The small town is characterised by its French influences owing to the descendents here being mostly from the country. Being on the same volcanic peninsula as Lyttelton and the Port Hills it offers stunning scenery over bays carved into the collapsed volcano.

Here you can swim with dolphins, kayak with penguins, take in some incredible hikes or just soak up the unique culture and history both European and Maori making it one of the best places to visit near Christchurch.

An Akaroa day tour from Christchurch is very popular with tourists and locals alike and many take frequent weekend trips from Christchurch to Akaroa too.

Beautiful water at Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Take one of the amazing Christchurch day tours to Akaroa!

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Akaroa – 82.5 km / 1 hr 20 mins

Public Transport Options? 

You can take the morning Red Bus Shuttle from city which can be organised as a return. It takes around 2-3 hrs.

You can also take one of the many day tours from Christchurch too.

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See Prices For Akaroa Tours Here

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TOP PICK: Rakaia Gorge (The Best Day Trip from Christchurch)

Rakaia Gorge is one of the most incredible but underrated day trips from Christchurch. The icy blue gorge running parallel to snow capped peaks (in the winter) is the closest taste of the Southern Alps from the city and is one of the easiest day tours from Christchurch to the mountains.

Located not too far from the popular ski fields at Mt Hutt it offers a stunning but not too challenging 10 km walk that traces the path of the glacial river along the jaw dropping gorge! Behind the gorge is an incredible mountain range creating a pictures perfect New Zealand scene!

For us, Rakaia Gorge is probably the best day trip from Christchurch. It’s got everything, it’s not too far, it’s never that busy and it offers some incredible scenery and a good easy hike for those wanting an accessible way to get exploring the Kiwi outdoors! If you only do one day trip from Christchurch, do this one!

The 10 km Rakaia Gorge walk near Mt Hutt (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Is this top of the Christchurch day trips?

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Rakaia Gorge – 85.6 km / 1 hr 7 mins

Public Transport Options?

There are no direct public transport options to Rakaia Gorge unfortunately.

However there are shuttle buses that run from Christchurch to Mt Hutt through the winter for the Ski Fields. Those pass the start of the walking trail so it possible to get dropped off there and either walk back to Mt Hutt village after or organise a pick up from the roadside. These are pricey though.

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Mt Hutt

Mt Hutt is the closest ski field to the city and one of the most popular places to visit near Christchurch to hit the slopes. You won’t find some of the huge infrastructure of areas near to Queenstown but what you will find is a much more local and laid back vibe and still a great range of runs to keep everyone happy. The ski season runs from June to October and there are all the expected facilities such as lessons for beginners and gear hire.

It’s not just for skiers and snowboarders up here either. There are activities for everyone from tobogganing to just taking the lift up to see the incredible view from the summit and to play around in the snow! For winter, this is the top of the Christchurch day trips!

Mt Hutt from the roadside (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Day tours from Christchurch: Mt Hutt and the nearby mountain ranges

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Mt Hutt – 112 km / 1 hr 43 mins

Public Transport Options?

There are shuttle services available from Christchurch that depart at 7am and return at 4pm. They are a little on the pricey side though. Check them out at Methven Travel 

See more info on Mt Hutt here: www.mthutt.co.nz

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Arthurs Pass/ Castle Hill

Castle Hill is an iconic collection of rock formations at the start of the famous Arthurs Pass. Surrounding in Maori legend as well as being a mecca for rock climbers a visit to this incredible place is one of the most popular day trips from Christchurch.

So named because the imposing limestone rocks resemble old ruined castles on the hillside it is an incredible place to explore both in the summer and when covered in snow in the winter months. located at 700 metres above sea level the strange and fascinating formations appear seemingly randomly in the mountain pass. It is no wonder this place is considered sacred by the Maori people given it’s mysterious and intimidating appearance! 

Castle Hill in Arthurs Pass (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Castle Hill is one of the best things to do in Canterbury New Zealand!

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Arthurs Pass – 138 km / 1 hr 57 mins

Christchurch to Castle Hill – 96.8 km / 1 hr 22 mins

Public Transport Options?

Unfortunately there are no public transport options here. However there are plenty of tours.

See Prices For A Castle Hill Tour Here

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Lake Tekapo & Pukaki 

The glacial lakes of Tekapo and Pukaki with their milky blue waters and snow capped mountain background is the New Zealand you came here to see! It’s one of the most stunning day trips from Christchurch for sure!

A little further out of Christchurch than some of the other Christchurch day trips it is still the perfect day trip and an opportunity to get a real taste of the Southern Alps. A Christchurch to Lake Tekapo tour is one of the most spectacular.

At Tekapo the summer lupin season makes the scene even more enchanting, besides that a visit to the famous “Church of the good Shepherd” and the Bronze Sheepdog complete the quintessential experience.

The long rectangular shaped lake Pukaki, a common feature of glacial lakes, sits at the opposite end to Mt Cook National Park and on a clear day the country’s tallest mountain can be seen across the water. It is a short drive on from Tekapo and well worth the extra effort to see a glimpse of the magnificent Mt Cook.

The glacial lakes of Lake Tekapo in The Southern Alps (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Day Tours Christchurch: Tekapo is one of the most stunning places to visit near Christchurch.

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Lake Tekapo – 227 km / 2 hrs 50 mins

Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki – 45 km / 28 mins

Public Transport Options?

The intercity bus connects Christchurch to Tekapo in less than 4 hours. However you will have to check the schedule to see if it is possible to do as a day trip on public transport.

However a Christchurch to Lake Tekapo tour is easy to organise

See Prices For Mt Cook & Tekapo Tours Here

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Kaikoura

One of the most popular places to visit near Christchurch is to the north, Kaikoura. A small coastal town surrounded by snow covered mountains it offers a truly unique combination of activities.

The main attractions here are animal encounters, whether that be taking to the ocean on a special whale watching cruise, doing it yourself in a kayak or just spotting the numerous seals dotted on the rocks and even sometimes the paths around town! It really is a great place to get up close to some of the wildlife of New Zealand in their natural habitats.

Kaikoura is also famous for its crayfish as well as its beautiful beaches, coastal walks and great surf breaks and is also not too far away making it one of the best day trips from Christchurch.

A seal at Kaikoura coastal walk (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
A great day trip from Christchurch is Kaikoura.

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Kaikoura – 181 km / 2 hrs 29 mins

Public Transport Options?

The Coastal Pacific train route from Christchurch passes through Kaikoura and takes just over 3 hours. The journey is an experience in itself. The trains run only once a day in each direction but luckily the train from Christchurch leaves in the morning and returns in the afternoon meaning you can arrive at 10:13am and leave again on the 5:10pm train.

Intercity buses also run between Christchurch and Kaikoura on weekdays but you will have to check the schedule for day trips. You can also take an organised Kaikoura tour from Christchurch.

See Prices For Kaikoura Tours Here

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Hanmer Springs

Just a short road trip from Christchurch and nestled into the mountains, Hanmer Springs combines adrenaline adventures with total relaxation making it a great day trip from Christchurch.

Known for its hot springs and thermal pools many come here to take a load off and unwind with some aqua therapy. I don’t know about you but after flying all the way to NZ this might be the ultimate way to get rid of your jetlag and feel refreshed for the rest of your adventure down under.

Thinking of blowing the cobwebs off another way, well Hamner is also famed for its thrilling water parks, bungee jumping opportunities, jet boating, river rafting and hiking!  You might just want to stay a little longer than a day to take it all in!

A curled silver fern in New Zealand (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Hanmer Springs – 134 km / 1 hr 48 mins

Public Transport Options?

Intercity run a bus between Christchurch and Hanmer Spring which takes just under 2.5 hrs. Check the schedule for day trip possibilities.

There is also the Hanmer Connection Shuttle 

Once again tours are also popular and easy to organise.

Get Tickets For The Thermal Pools Here

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Waipara Wine Valley 

North Canterbury is known for its exceptional wine growing conditions and kiwi products have become world renowned. Wanting to get out into the beautiful New Zealand landscape without having to hike or throw yourself off a bridge? Going on a wine tour is a great relaxing way to soak in the views of the valleys whilst sipping on some award winning tasty beverages.

This area has a real local home grown feel to it where your custom supports small independent wineries so it’s a win win all round! It’s also really close by to the city making it one of the easiest day trips from Christchurch! Just remember not to drink and drive!

Waipara wine region near Christchurch (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
One of the most popular Christchurch day tours is to the closeby wine region.

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Waipara – 61.7 km / 53 mins

Please have a designated driver if you plan on drinking!

Public Transport Options?

Hanmer Connection shuttle run a service between the city and wine region.

Tours are also a great way to see this area and also mean you can drink and not have to worry about transport!

See Prices For A Waipara Wine Tours Here


Best Day Trips From Christchurch: Full on Intense But Possible Day Trips!

If you’re willing to brave the early hours for a dawn start then you can explore some of the further wonders of the South Island. You won’t be able to make it as far as Queenstown, Wanaka or Milford Sound but in a day you can definitely see some of the most incredible alpine views the country has to offer! It will be full on and tiring but well worth it!

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Tranzalpine Train

The Tranzalpine Train travels across the country from the East Coast to the West via the incredible Arthurs Pass. People don’t take this route just to get from A to B, they take it for the experience and views along the way. The 4 hour journey cutting through the country journeys into some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking scenery allowing a unique and relaxing perspective on the landscape. Sit back and take it all in from the comfort of the train. It really is the journey of a lifetime beginning in the Canterbury plains before traversing the edge of the icy Waimakariri River and the Southern Alps. 

Tranzapline train from Christchurch to Greymouth down Arthurs Pass (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)

Whilst most people alight at either end of the journey it is entirely possible to take it back in the same day and have double the experience!

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

4 hrs one way

See Prices For Train Tickets Here

Mt Cook National Park

We ended up doing a trip out to Mt Cook National Park from Christchurch after our attempt on our long road trip was curtailed by the weather… so we know it’s possible. However, it did require us to get up at 4am but it is a full on but rewarding day out!

Setting off early you’ll likely be in darkness, but seeing the sun rise over the jaw dropping Alpine landscape on this ultimate Christchurch road trip is well worth it. Try to resist the temptation to stop along the way and make the most of your time hiking in the stunning National Park. You can always make a stop at Tekapo and Pukaki on the way back! For us, if you’re willing to get up early, it’s one of the top day trips from Christchurch.

Mt Cook national park and the tasman glacier (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Looking for Scenic drives Christchurch? Take A Christchurch to Mt cook tour.

After making the long but scenic drive you will be rewarded with some of the most dramatic but astonishing views in New Zealand. This truly is the place you came to see over here! There are some wonderful walks and hikes to do around here that allow you to really soak in the majesty of the mountains. A Christchurch to Mt cook tour is tiring but incredibly rewarding.

One of the most popular is the 3hr/ 10 km Hooker Valley walk which is easy going but time consuming. Another which we did is the more strenuous Sealy Tarns track which takes between 3-4 hrs to complete. There are also some shorter easier strolls including to Kea Point, Red Tarns and the very short Glencoe walk. So there is something for all fitness levels and time available. Check out the walks here: www.doc.govt.nz for some of the most wonderful day hikes near Christchurch.

Mt Cook national park and the tasman glacier from the sealy tarn track (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
Christchurch day tours: Mt Cook is a long day but worth it!

How Far (Time/ Distance) –

Christchurch to Mt Cook – 331 km / 4 hrs

Public Transport Options?

Whilst there are buses that go to the village in the National Park there is no way to do it there and back in a day on public transport. However there are lots of Mt Cook – Christchurch day tours available.

See Prices For Mt Cook Tours Here


Day Trips From Christchurch We Don’t Recommend Doing!

New Zealand might be small compared to places like Australia but there are many places around the country that just shouldn’t be done as a day trip. Partly because people underestimate the roads of New Zealand and how far they can get in a day – 100 km through the outback isn’t the same as 100 km on winding mountain roads! And also because many places themselves require several days to properly see.

Plus with so many things to do in Canterbury New Zealand you can save the rest for later! You can take many of the longer South Island tours from Christchurch.

You might see some of these on other lists out there, but trust us, at best you will be doing yourself a disservice if you try to do them as a day trip from Christchurch and at worse you might end up having an accident or getting stranded at night in the middle of nowhere! There are NOT the Places to visit near Christchurch!!

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Queenstown

Come on now! Queenstown is the centre of action sports in New Zealand, there is so much to do here you could spend an entire year here and not get bored!! Come for at least a few days to make the most of it! Plus, its a 6 hour drive without breaks, so really how much are you doing to see with at least 12 hrs of driving!

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Wanaka

For us Wanaka is even better than Queenstown! So many hikes, so much scenery to explore both in and around the town! Do yourself a favour and spent a few days here. Hiking Roys Peak itself takes a good 5 hrs and that is something not to miss!

Driving to the West Coast

Go down to Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch, but don’t try to get all the way to the West Coast (unless you are taking the train). Firstly, there is so much to do along the way it would be a shame to rush it. But also, the West Coast of New Zealand with it’s beach towns, unique rock formations, tropical rainforests and incredible glaciers really needs to be seen over a week or even longer!

Abel Tasman National Park (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
The incredible Abel Tasman National Park!

Marlborough and Abel Tasman

The very top of the South Island is home to the Marlborough Sounds as well as Abel Tasman National Park. Both of these incredible regions need a few days each to fully explore and take it. They are also a further drive than you might imagine!

Milford Sound

Forget about it!! Milford Sound is over 9 hrs away non stop from Christchurch! Not only that but there is so much more to see around here than just the main fiord! It’s dangerous and totally pointless! Unless you can charter a helicopter then it’s not happening!

Mitre peak at Milford Sound, (day trips from Christchurch, Christchurch day trips, places to visit near Christchurch, things to do in Canterbury New Zealand, visit Christchurch)
South Island tours from Christchurch: The city is a great starting point but many places can’t be done as day trips!

North Island

Ok, you can drive to Wellington in a day and take the ferry, but you won’t be able to see or do much else along the way unfortunately. We recommend breaking that trip up via Kaikoura and Abel Tasman NP. But there is no way you can take a day trip to the North Island and return in a day, that’s another 9 hr journey one way! Plus, there is so much more to see and do up there!

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Christchurch Day Trips: Should I Take A Tour?

With New Zealand being such a rural country some of the places we’ve mentioned can be difficult to reach without your own transport. Of course, it’s not always easy or affordable to do that so that’s where we recommend taking one of the easy to organise Christchurch day tours .

There are a plethora of day trip tours to take from Christchurch and the benefit is that you don’t need to worry about negotiating the winding roads or timing your trip to get back to the city, you can just sit back, relax and enjoy some amazing experiences!

South Island tours from Christchurch are popular and the city is usually the starting point.

See Our Prices For Christchurch Tours Here




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1 month ago

Super list guys 🙂 So cool you spent a year in Christchurch. We spent 2 weeks there. Loved it. From there, we visited Arthur’s Pass and Cheviot, which was an undiscovered gem for us. From Timaru, we visited Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo, the Moeraki Boulders and Shag Point to see the seals. All were mind-blowing but we got Mount Cook on a perfect weather day, so it was the prettiest, most jaw-dropping place I have ever experienced during my world travels. Even local Kiwis seemed to be in awe of my Mount Cook pics because the skies were… Read more »