If you only had 72 hours in Canterbury, what would you do? We got 2 Sydney-siders, Andrew and Dominique, to design their ideal Canterbury long weekend and then they won the opportunity to experience it! Check out what they got up to.
Arriving into Christchurch in the small hours of the night...
To make the most of their 3 days on the ground, Andrew and Dominique chose a direct flight from Sydney that flew into Christchurch late on Thursday night, staying at a great hotel close to the airport, Commodore Airport Hotel Christchurch, to rest up before heading on their road trip in the morning.
Ancient rock art to alpine hot pools - road tripping from Christchurch to Timaru, then through to Tekapo
After brekkie at the Copthorne, they jumped into their Omega Rental Car (best to grab a 4WD just in case!) and headed 1 hour south of Christchurch to a town called Ashburton (or as Kiwis like to call it, Ashvegas). There's no better place to stop for a wee break and sweet treat than at the delicious Somerset Grocer before continuing their journey.
They then drove for just over another hour through the Canterbury Plains, and little rural townships, until they reached Canterbury's second largest town, Timaru. Time for some Māori history at Te Ana Ngāi Tahu Rock Art Centre, where they viewed the most significant collection of ancient Māori rock drawings in New Zealand.
After a taste of culture, a taste of Canterbury wine was well overdue. A short 30 minute drive inland you'll fine Opihi Wines, who grow a limited edition wine with a unique taste of South Canterbury in every glass.
Once they'd sampled this fine drop (being careful not to drink drive of course!) it was back on the road once more, heading to the final destination for the day - the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo.
Arriving in Tekapo, they stopped at their accommodation for the evening, Peppers Bluewater Resort - "a glimmering spectacle in the Mackenzie Basin" - where they checked in to the hotel and then checked on their togs (aka cozzies/bathers/swimming costumes for you Aussies).
After a big day of driving, it was only right to relax those sore muscles with a well deserved dip in the warm waters of Tekapo Springs, followed by an indulgent massage at the onsite spa. Mmm divine.
Once thoroughly relaxed, they forced down some delicious local fare at Rakinui Restaurant at Peppers, and then headed across the road to Earth and Sky to start their very own stargazing space odyssey in Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.
Glaciers, saddles and foothills - the diverse journey from Tekapo to Mid Canterbury
Rise and shine! It's time for a million dollar view and glacier experience with Tekapo Helicopters. Flying alongside the magnificent Lake Pukaki, they made their way high above the Southern Alps, past the amazing Tasman and Murchison glaciers, majestic Aoraki Mt Cook and the spectacular Fox Glacier before landing on the famous Franz Josef Glacier for a once in a lifetime experience.
Once back on land, they jumped back in the car and headed to the quaint village of Geraldine. Although known for its amazing jams and preserves, you truly can't stop there without a visit to the world famous (in New Zealand) knitted jersey - it holds the world record you know!
Just out of Geraldine, they stepped back in time for a journey into the past with a horse trek at Peel Forest Horse Trekking. This was an opportunity to experience life before the car, trekking through some of the most gorgeous countryside in the dense bush of Peel Forest in South Canterbury.
After an incredible, rustic afternoon, (and with sore backsides) they then drove alongside the foothills of the Southern Alps through to Mid Canterbury, and their accommodation for the evening at the gorgeous Quickenberry Lodge & Guesthouse. Staying at Quickenberry is an experience of tranquillity, fresh air, romance, starry summer skies, stormy winter nights, curling up by the fire and really good food and wine. Sounds like heaven.
Jet boats, trams and aeroplanes - Rakaia Gorge, Christchurch and then homeward bound
Sunday morning started off with a whizz and a bang! After enjoying breakfast at Quickenberry they headed to the Rakaia Gorge and for a real "blast" of fresh air (and a few spins!) with Discovery Jet. It was sheer adrenaline and excitement as they zoomed through the towering gorge, with breath-taking views of the glacial fed Rakaia Gorge and Southern Alps.
Andrew decided that they really couldn't spend all this time in Canterbury without heading back to Christchurch for an afternoon to rediscover the city, and witness first hand the juxtaposition between urban regeneration and traditional English activities that Christchurch is so well known for. They jumped aboard one of the newly restored Christchurch Trams, and set aside some time to visit Quake City, and grabbed a couple of Fritz's Wieners at the Re:START container mall.
For their final evening in Canterbury, they wisely chose the luxurious 5 star boutique hotel, The George, overlooking picturesque Hagley Park in the heart of the city. They also chose to enjoy some delicious French cuisine, at St Germain restaurant. After that they headed back to the hotel, and straight to sleep in order to catch the red-eye flight the next morning, which got them back to Sydney in time for work Monday morning!