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A Day In Waimakariri

Where Once Is Never Enough

Pack a picnic and get ready to spend a day exploring the Waimakariri District. A region of vast natural beauty, slower paced country towns and beach settlements all offering their own unique experience.


Explore the picturesque river town of Kaiapoi just a 20-minute drive from Ōtautahi Christchurch. Enjoy aquatic activities on the Kaiapoi River, from a cruise on the River Queen to a kayak or paddleboard with KORE, where you can go at your own pace. Relax and enjoy a local brew overlooking the River at The Platform Brew Bar.

Shopping In Waiamakariri

Escape the malls and get a breath of fresh air whilst enjoying a day of boutique shopping! Only a short drive from central Christchurch you will find shops with the latest fashion, quality preloved clothing, top-end homewares, giftware, art and more. All set in the backdrop of Waimakariri’s urban centres and rural towns. Visit for the day or the weekend make time to explore and take some time to enjoy yourself at one the many cafés and restaurants along the way.

Waikuku Beach

Just 30 minutes’ drive from Christchurch you will discover the beachside settlement of Waikuku. Fun for the whole family - with surf, sun, sand, and boutique shopping aplenty. Learn to surf, or grab an ice cream and coffee at the local store while you watch the kids in the toddler pool. Stretch your legs with a scenic walk around the estuary, up the Ashley/Rakahuri River and the Taranaki Walkway to see numerous birds and discover where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. When you’ve had enough sun head to The Mill and The Old School Collective on SH1 for boutique shopping and delicious food.

Ashley Gorge And Oxford

Less than an hours' drive from Christchurch the Ashley Gorge is a perfect spot for the whole family. Pack a picnic and your togs and make a day of it at the Ashley Gorge Holiday Park. Walk the Ashley Gorge Loop Track, or get adventurous and tee up a canyoning experience with Big Rock Adventures. Finish your visit in nearby Oxford with a bite to eat at the famous Sheffield Pie Shop and browse the array of books and gifts at Emma’s at Oxford.

Waimakariri Walking And Cycling

There are numerous forest conservation areas located at the foot of the Southern Alps, only an hours' drive away Christchurch, such as Mount Oxford and Mount Thomas. These trails are popular with walkers, trampers, picnickers and campers. Ranging from short nature walks to challenging tramping routes the valleys and ridges have something for everyone. Our top pick (and listed as one of the top five waterfalls in Canterbury) is Ryde Falls in Oxford Forest Conservation Area. Take your togs and your dog and cool down in the pool at the falls.

Eastern Cycle Tracks

Make a day of it on the many bike trails around the eastern part of Waimakariri. Enjoy the best natural features of the district including braided rivers, regenerating coastal forests and wetlands. Enjoy the beach settlements and the urban centres that the trails take you through. Plan to stop and replenish in the many local cafes and restaurants along the way. Ride the 60km loop track or pick and choose your shorter rides to suit your schedule and ability. Waimakariri's eastern cycle tracks are joined by on-road facilities so please take care on the roads amongst the traffic.

Download a cycle trail guide.

Photo Opportunities

  • Top of Mt Oxford.
  • Sunrise at Waikuku Beach.
  • Mouth of the Waimakariri River on the Pegasus Trail, or from the lookout on Kaiapoi Island Trail.

Insider Tips

  • Ohoka has an established farmers’ market on every Friday, Oxford on a Sunday.
  • Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area is great for a family picnic.
  • Got a furry friend? Check out the dog parks in the area.
  • Experience the thrill of a jet boat ride down the Waimakariri River with Alpine Jet Thrills.
  • Take the kids for a spin on one of the cycling trails.
  • Oxford has an outdoor swimming pool open in summer.
  • Rangiora’s boutique movie theatre is great at all times and especially on a wet day.
  • Find some treasures in Cust at antique shop Done and Dusted and the enchanted little retailer Away with the Fairys.


Discover even more ways to spend a day in Waimakariri.

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