Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. It is a charming, “english-like” city, mixing some of the oldest buildings in New Zealand with a cutting edge architecture. If you enjoy walking, we recommend a visit to Hagley Park.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to know Christchurch much. We stayed there only for a couple of days and the city was all under construction, as it was recovering from the 2016 earthquake.
But since Chirstchurch is located in the heart of the Canterbury region, we used it as a base to explore this beautiful area of New Zealand’s South Island, specially the Banks Peninsula.
Activity options near Christchurch
Christchurch, city in the South Island of New Zealand
The South Island of New Zealand is full of nature all around. The Canterbury region is no different. The number of trails around Christchurch is immense. For those who want to explore the region on foot, you can check out this website.
We chose to take a boat trip to observe marine life. This is a kind of activity offered in many cities in the east coast. The most famous place in the Canterbury region to observe marine life is Kaikoura, which is 2h30 away from Christchurch by car. However, we were unable to schedule tours in Kaikoura as they were already fully booked.
Akaroa, located on the Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
We then hired a boat trip in Akaroa, which is much closer to Christchurch, on the Banks Peninsula. We chose the Akaroa Harbor Nature Cruise from Black Cat Cruises, which cost NZD 85.00 per adult. It was an amazing ride, with sightings of dolphins, seals, birds and even a penguin!
Akaroa is a charming port city with French colonization. Due to its location right in the middle of the Akaroa Harbor channel, it is an excellent location for boat trips. In addition to the marine life, the visitor also contemplates the beautiful view of the bays along the canal.
“Stone elephant” – rock formation on Banks Peninsula
The dolphin present in the region is the Hector’s Dolphin, an endemic species from New Zealand, which is considered the smallest dolphin in the world. In Akaroa it is even possible to hire tours to swim with the dolphins from renowned and responsible companies.
For those who have more time to explore the Banks Peninsula, there are several options of trails in the region that can be made to contemplate the beautiful topography of the peninsula.
Hector’s Dolphin, the smallest dolphin in the world – endemic from New Zealand
Sea lions spotted from Akaroa, New Zealand
A lone penguin swimming in the middle of Akaroa Harbor
After the boat ride, we took a walk through the friendly city of Akaroa, had lunch and took the road back to Christchurch. The panoramic view of the road to Banks Peninsula itself is very beautiful. We also made a quick stop on the way back, to contemplate the beautiful Lake Forsyth, with the mountains in the background.
Lake Forsyth, on the road from Christchurch to Akaroa. We were lucky to see this beautiful family of black swans crossing the lake in the late afternoon. The photo location is near Little River Freedom Camp.
The evening look at Lake Forsyth was the perfect way to end the day. The next day, we would travel to the West Coast, crossing New Zealand’s South Island by the Great Alpine Highway.