This Is Mid Canterbury
The Ashburton District - a large expansive area in Mid Canterbury. Boy does this place have it all! Close to the main highway is a massive area of pristine New Zealand back country. Hike up snow-capped mountains or take a chair lift and shred down them, grab the bike and head along a lakeside trail, or even wander through dense forest to find waterfalls.
The Ashburton District is a true underrated South Island gem. Here's a few reasons why you need to visit.
Washpen Falls are a great family day walk, around an hour's drive from either Christchurch or Ashburton.
Begin at the old woolshed and follow the track through the bush-clad volcanic canyon reserve to views over the Canterbury Plains and Banks Peninsula. Down the canyon forest you’ll be greeted by Washpen Falls. The loop track continues to a rustic shelter sitting on the edge of a serene pond.
The property features several boutique accommodation options - The Shepherd's Hut, a transformed English Shepherd’s hut, while The Chalet at the start of the track is the perfect place for a night away with good mates.
This walk is located on private property. An entry fee of $10 per adult and $5 per child (U15) is used to maintain this great area. No dogs allowed.
The Rakaia Gorge is a cruisy hour drive from Christchurch, the perfect first stop on your inland journey.
The gorge features stunning blue waters with a backdrop of the Southern Alps and foothills. Wander along the walkway, then head down to the water for a refreshing (freeeeezing) dip. The 130 year old single lane bridge over the gorge makes this spot an ideal photo opportunity.
If you're a camper, spend the night at the campground. For those wanting a little glamour, the Mt Hutt Lodge will take care of you with luxury private units, spa included.
Offering some top-notch day walks and backcountry hikes, Mount Somers is one of Mid Canterbury’s highlights. Just 30 minutes from Ashburton and 20 minutes from Methven, Mount Somers is the gateway to the Hakatere Conservation Park.
The Woolshed Creek Hut walk is a great day adventure for the whole family and is the spot for photos. You could easily spend days on this one track. If you’re after more of a challenge, conquering Mount Somers or the Pinnacles Hut might be for you!
Mt Hutt Area
This long-standing playground for Canterbury snow bunnies has officially been New Zealand's best ski resort for six years in a row. Expect all the alpine vibes you could ever need.
Methven is the ideal base for your Mid Canterbury adventures, just over an hour from Christchurch. Arriving in this town, you instantly feel on holiday. There are plenty of places to stay, and once you’re settled, grab a beer and a good feed from a swath of places in town.
Up for an adventure? Stretch your legs and hike up Mt Alford. It's four-hour return on an easy/medium track. Its summit is the perfect place to admire the Southern Alps’ jagged peaks.
The Peel Forest Scenic Reserve home to native forest, waterfalls and many native birds. The bush walks are suitable for all fitness levels and include an accessible trail.
Check out Emily Falls, Rata Falls and Acland Falls for some good waterfall action, plus the forest stroll is lovely, and the base pools and creeks will entertain both young and old.
There are campgrounds aplenty, and boutique accommodation and lodges nearby. Take your pick and get ready to explore this amazing reserve wilderness!
The Hakatere Conservation Park/Ashburton Lakes District
A magical place with stunning lakes and towering mountains, Hakatere Conservation Park is a massively underrated place to explore this winter. Make the most of it’s relative anonymity and get there before the secret’s out.
From hiking and biking, to water sports and serene lakefronts, this place has you covered. With enough to keep you exploring for weeks, here are just a few highlights to get you started.
Mount Sunday – this was Edoras in The Lord of the Rings, chosen for good reason. The drive in ain’t smooth, but dirt roads generally lead to the best places, right?
Lake Camp and Lake Clearwater – two lakes in one spot make for an activity-filled destination. Go boating on Lake Camp, and then check out the wildlife sanctuary at Lake Clearwater. The track to Mount Guy summit also starts here, a three-hour climb to insane views. Be aware though, it’s quite exposed to the weather.
Lake Heron – the largest of the Ashburton Lakes. Enter another planet as you drive through vast landscapes and towering mountains. The water is clean and clear, and there are plenty of spots around the lake to set yourself up for the day.
That’s the end of our epic list of the best things to see and do in Mid Canterbury! Goes to show you don't need to go far from the city to get epic views and adventures.