Christchurch is affectionately known as 'The Garden City'. In the city, and its big backyard of Canterbury, you'll find many a green oasis of gardens, parks, forests and native wetlands.
If you're the energetic type, these areas provide plenty of recreational activities to get the heart racing. Or, kick back and relax, and simply take in the beauty and tranquillity.
Christchurch's inner city park
Sprawling Hagley Park sits at the heart of Christchurch. The park offers vast green spaces, dotted with century-old trees, and stunning floral shows in springtime. Walk, run or cycle its pathways, or take on the fitness circuit.
Riccarton Bush & Ilam Homestead Gardens
For a great first-hand experience of New Zealand native plants, take the short drive from the city to Riccarton Bush. Hidden in a busy part of town lies an ancient native forest reserve, with manicured gardens and historic buildings sitting alongside the Avon River. Tucked away in a nearby Christchurch suburb is one of the city’s best kept secrets. Visit Ilam Homestead Gardens in spring or summer, and you’ll be dazzled with scores of azaleas and rhododendrons in a secluded natural haven.
The Groynes, Styx Mill Conservation Reserve & Travis Wetland
To the north east of Christchurch City you'll find plenty of flourishing reserve land to explore. Head north for the popular retreat of The Groynes, with picnic spots and walking trails amid wildlife and native and exotic plants. Nature lovers will be in heaven at Styx Mill Conservation Reserve - the wetland is home to a range of vegetation, and an array of birdlife to spot on its many walking tracks. If you love birds, Travis Wetland hosts 55 species, living within a huge wetland park.
Head up to the Christchurch Port Hills for parkland with a view. Victoria Park, just a short drive from the central city, gives superb vistas over the city, the Southern Alps and the coast. There's a great picnic spot here, and if you're up for stretching your legs, choose one of the several bush walks or hop on your bike and explore the rest of the Park.
Bottle Lake Forest Park
For trees as far as the eye can see, visit Bottle Lake Forest Park, just on the outskirts of Christchurch. Take a wander through this huge exotic pine forest with the cooling canopy of trees, or get the legs really working with a mountain bike ride or run.
Halswell Quarry Park
Just south of Christchurch lies Halswell Quarry Park, a former quarry offering a fascinating mix of attractions. A once rowdy rocky area is now a quiet amphitheatre, surrounding by grasslands, gardens and wetlands. There's also six sister city gardens, and a Canterbury botanical collection.
Waimate's Knottingley Park (Waihao Back Road, Waimate) is a great place for walking, picnics, barbeques, and camping.
Victoria Park (Tennant Street, Waimate) is set in 6.9 hectares of trees, shrubs and flower beds. There is also an athletic track, cycling oval as well as an animal enclosure with wallabies, children's playground and camping facilities.
In Ashburton, pack a picnic of local treats and enjoy hectare upon hectare of lawn, mature trees, plants and flowers at the Ashburton Domain.