There's so much to experience in Mid Canterbury – with magnificent scenery, and activities ranging from energetic and exhilarating to relaxing and peaceful, all within an hour's drive of Christchurch International Airport.
Set in the centre of the South island and stretching from the Southern Alps to the sea with the mighty Mount Hutt as a backdrop, you'll be spoilt for choice on how to spend your time. Amongst the snow-capped mountains, rugged high country, glacial lakes and rushing rivers, you'll discover plenty of traditional rural hospitality.
Across Mid Canterbury you’ll find people with a passion for producing food and wine from this fertile and productive region. Experience the best of local flavours and meet the very passionate locals at the Ashburton District Farmers’ Market during the summer months. Enjoy quality locally grown fare in a quick stop at a roadside café, a hearty country pub meal, or fine dining at a high country lodge. Local specialties include free-range turkey, honey, handmade chocolates, berries, hemp oil and sausage rolls - hungry yet?
There’s nearly 60,000 hectares to explore at Hakatere Conservation Park – just inland from Ashburton. Come and discover the stunning landscape made up of craggy mountain country, tussock lands, beech forest, lakes and sparkling rivers including the mighty Rakaia and Rangitata. There’s so much to do here – swimming, boating, tramping, climbing, skiing, hunting, mountain biking, horse riding, fishing or simply relaxing over a picnic of fine local fare. All you need to do is choose your recreational fancy, and get on down here!
If you love to delve into history, you’ll find this area is a treasure trove of times gone by. Unearth all kinds of historical gems at museums in Ashburton, Methven and Mt Somers. There’s also a Harness Racing Museum, a Woodworking Museum and an Aviation Museum, where you can check out a huge collection of planes and displays. Head to the Plains Historic Village for some fascinating pioneer relics and buildings, and a working vintage railway. Transport enthusiasts are in luck with an impressive collection at Ashburton Vintage Car Museum.
For intriguing glimpses into early life around these parts, visit the old lime kilns at Staveley and Mt Somers, coal mines at Woolshed Creek, the old 1860’s Hakatere stone homestead and the Barrhill Historic Village. New Zealand’s Alpine and Agriculture Encounter tells the stories of the mountains and plains and the people, and make sure you take time to visit quaint historic churches and homesteads dotted throughout the district.
The wild beauty of Mid Canterbury’s high country landscape has captured many hearts. Countless painters, photographers, writers and film makers have celebrated its tussock-covered hills and craggy mountains, shaped by climate, geology and people. And tourism operators and farmers that live here love to show visitors just how special this part of the world is. Venture into the high country, where loads of activities and adventure await you. Take a 4WD journey deep into the high country wilderness, or cast a line on a pristine lake. Stay a while, and discover warm hospitality and hearty local fare at a farm-stay or high country lodge.
This corner of Canterbury is renowned for its relaxed, refined lifestyle, quirky characters and activities galore – set amid beautiful countryside, and a mountainous playground. Base yourself at the alpine village of Methven – offering high octane excitement, or a tranquil country escape. It all comes with a warm local welcome that makes you feel at home from the moment you arrive.
Come winter, Methven starts to buzz. It’s a snow sports magnet – with nine ski fields close by, including the majestic Mt Hutt and more than 1000²km of New Zealand’s best heli-skiing terrain. And this year, the ultimate snow experience is even more accessible for families, with Mt Hutt Ski Area offering children 10 and under to stay, eat and play for free during the 2012 ski season. The means free lift access at Mt Hutt Ski Area, free travel to and from Christchurch Airport and Mt Hutt Ski Area, free accommodation at selected properties in the Methven area, free meals at some of the region’s best restaurants, and free ski or board rental at selected local shops. Check out www.kids4free.co.nz for more.
And there’s so much more to Methven than snow action. Come and discover for yourself this beautiful, captivating area that really gets you in touch with the great outdoors. If you’re into adventure and raising adrenalin, this is your Mecca. Take on some exhilarating downhill action with a mountain bike ride in the foothills, or glide over the Canterbury plains in a hot air balloon, with superb views over the magnificent Southern Alps. Dart through the scenic Rakaia Gorge by jet boat, or brave some of the country’s best white waters in a raft trip down the Rangitata River. If your daring goes further than that, jump out of a plane in a skydive for an incredible thrill, and incredible views right across the district.
There’s plenty of more passive past times here too – explore the district’s beautiful landscapes on a horse trek, a scenic flight, a wilderness or four-wheel drive tour, or enjoy some icy fun with skating and curling during the winter months. Get a taste of rural life with a farm tour or demonstration – you may well decide a country lifestyle is for you!