Only 20 minutes north of Christchurch, on State Highway 1 or Inland Scenic Route 72, you can enjoy jet boating on the Waimakariri River, kayaking and sailing on Lake Pegasus, horse riding, farm tours, farmers' markets and much more.
Around these parts they love to welcome visitors – and you can take your pick of accommodation, from cosy bed and breakfasts, to family motels and holiday parks, farm stays and country lodges. Wherever you stay, you'll find warm country hospitality comes as standard.
Kaiapoi pā was established by Turakautahi around 1700, after Ngāi Tahu crossed over from the North Island. Kaiapoi means 'to swing the food in' refering to the fact that the pa was surrounded by waterways and wetlands on 3 sides and food had to be swung across the lagoon to reach the pā.
During the 1700's Kaiapoi pā was Ngāi Tahu's political and economic stronghold. In 1831, the pā was attacked by Te Rauparaha and his northern followers. Many people were killed as they fled from the pā site through the surrounding swamplands. This attack was the beginning of a dark time for Ngāi Tahu with the loss of many people in a number of further bloody battles. Southern Māori retaliated and eventually Ngāi Tahu drove Te Rauparaha outside their tribal boundaries.
Early European / Pākehā settlers influenced the landscape of this rural district as they farmed and milled the plains and hills. Towns and villages were established around railway lines and main roads that transported goods to Christchurch and the Kaiapoi Port. Today the small museums in Oxford, Cust, Rangiora and Kaiapoi are interesting places to visit to see how people lived over 150 years ago.
Getting around - walking, cycling and horse trekking
Waimakariri's rolling countryside, lush forests and vast coastlines are just waiting to be explored. Whether you're a fitness fanatic or a slow ambler, there's a walking trail here for you. Check out the vistas from a bike on one of the area's many cycle trails, or travel by horseback, with a trek through the Canterbury foothills.
There's plenty of fun and adventure to be had on Waimakariri's waterways. Squeal your way through an adrenalin-pumping jet boat ride along the Waimakariri River. Or take a more sedate journey on the MV Tuhoe, an historic schooner sailing the Kaiapoi and Waimakariri Rivers.
Lake Pegasus offers a safe and scenic spot to sail, kayak and swim, framed by beautiful sandy and pebbled beaches. Or simply pack a picnic of local goodies and park up lakeside. And then there are wide coastal beaches, perfect for a seaside stroll, a plunge, or just dipping your toes in the surf.
Shopping, wine, dine, arts and craft
Spend some time discovering Waimakariri's country townships. Visit peaceful, rural Oxford and Rangiora, picturesque riverside Kaiapoi, coastal Woodend, or the newly developed resort town of Pegasus. There's some great shopping to be had, art galleries to explore, golf courses to play, and cafés and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy some regional fare, and perhaps a local craft beer or wine.
North Canterbury Food & Wine Trail
Design your own foodie tour with the help of the North Canterbury Food & Wine Trail – a mapped-out showcase of the region's best food and wine experiences and artisan producers. Meet some of these passionate people and taste their spoils at weekly farmers' markets held in many of the small townships. Alongside local meats, cheeses, and preserves, you'll find lots of tempting treats to sample amidst the buzzing atmosphere. Don't forget to stop at a roadside stall to get yourself some unique local flavour hits, or apron-up and grow your culinary skills with a lesson at the renowned cooking school, Seagars at Oxford.
There's always some kind of event going on in the Waimakariri – whether sports, food and wine, arts and culture, festivals, fairs or markets you'll find its communities are a hive of activity most weekends. Check out an events calendar or ask a local what’s on, and come and join in on the happenings that really capture the spirit of this country lifestyle district.