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Christchurch National parks

Our most recommended Christchurch National parks

Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

1. Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

Experience dramatic glacier lakes, snow-capped mountains, and beautiful alpine walks on a small-group day trip from Christchurch. After pick-up from your hotel, journey to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, located a 4 hours' drive through spectacular and breathtaking landscapes. Visit the historic town of Geraldine. Then discover the heart of Mackenzie Country, the captivatingly turquoise Lake Tekapo, the iconic Church of Good Shepherd, and the well-recognized statue of Sheepdog. Travel through Lake Pukaki and admire stunning views of Mt. Cook from a distance. Enjoy a short scenic hike in the National Park to view the 23.5kms long Tasman Glacier which is the longest glacier in New Zealand before returning to Christchurch.

Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour

2. Arthur's Pass: TranzAlpine Train and Castle Hill Day Tour

Experience the South Island's remarkable natural landscapes by taking a journey on a train from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass, which is considered one of the world's greatest train journeys for the scenery it passes. Enjoy breathtaking views of Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, ice-fed Waimakariri River, lush beech forests, and stunning landscapes. Explore walking tracks in Arthur's Pass National Park with spectacular mountain views & pristine waterfalls. Capture mirror images at Lake Pearson & wander through the majestic limestone boulders at Castle Hill. A perfect day trip for nature lovers, hikers, and adventure seekers.

Christchurch: Guided Castle Hill Tour

3. Christchurch: Guided Castle Hill Tour

Leaving Christchurch via the "Great Alpine Highway", you'll cross the flat farmland of the Canterbury Plains towards the mountains. Halfway across the plains you will discover the small rural town of Darfield, where you will enjoy a short stop which will allow you to sample some of the local delicacies from the famous Darfield Bakery. Your next stop is Springfield, just 20 minutes down the road. Complete with its giant doughnut statue it's well worth a photo, and your guide will explain just how the town ended up with this giant doughnut. From Springfield the road winds its way up over Porters Pass at 900 meters, before continuing past Lake Lyndon and arriving at Castle Hill/Kura Tawhiti. This area is an amazing labyrinth of giant limestone boulders that sit in the Craigieburn Basin, surrounded by mountains. The area is rich with cultural and recreational significance and has a Tōpuni status of a "symbolic cloak of protection”. It is also known internationally as a world-class climbing, bouldering, photography, and film-making destination. Your guide will show you around and explain the geography and cultural significance of the area, before sitting you down for a picnic lunch. Following lunch you will have free time to explore the boulder fields in your own time, before meeting back at the car park at 2:00PM. From there, your return journey back to Christchurch takes approximately 1.5-2 hours.

Christchurch: Godley Head & Lyttelton Guided Walking Tour

4. Christchurch: Godley Head & Lyttelton Guided Walking Tour

The day begins with departure from Christchurch, heading through New Zealand's second-longest road tunnel until you arrive in Lyttelton. Enjoy some free time here to explore the historic port town, which is steeped in Antarctic exploration history. Leave Lyttelton via the exceedingly steep and narrow side streets, stopping briefly at the historic Timeball Station and the lookout on Evens Pass. Follow Evens Pass over the Port Hills and down onto Sumner Beach, where your guide lays out a refreshing morning tea. A short drive from Sumner Village brings you to Taylors Mistake Beach. From here, set out on the walking tour of Godley Head, which follows a well-formed loop track of approximately 8 km (3-hours). From Taylors Mistake Beach, the coastal track climbs a small hill before traversing above scenic cliffs. Descend onto a small rocky section of the coast, home to the rare White Flippered Penguin (only found in 2 places New Zealand). The visit to the penguin colony is optional. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, lunch is provided at Boulder Bay or at Godley Head. After lunch, spend some more free time discovering the remnants of the WW2 defenses. The location offers excellent photographic opportunities with uninterrupted views of Lyttelton Harbor, Banks Peninsula, and Christchurch City. On the return journey back to Taylors Mistake Beach, your guide explains the use of the military outpost at Godley Head and New Zealand's involvement in WW2. Finally, the drive back from Taylors Mistake to Christchurch passes through Sumner Village and along the estuary before reaching the inner city block where you will be dropped back at your hotel or the city center.

From Christchurch: Mount Cook Transfer with Lake Tekapo Tour

5. From Christchurch: Mount Cook Transfer with Lake Tekapo Tour

Christchurch to Mt Cook via Lake Tekapo Small Group Tour (1 way). This small group, fully-guided day transfer allows you to travel in style to Mt Cook while seeing all the key highlights along the way. Led by our famously passionate tour guides, notorious for bringing your journey to life by sharing their stories and rich background knowledge and run in modern, comfortable minibuses packed with extras ensuring your comfort and safety. Highlights: Lake Tekapo Mt Cook & Aoraki National Park Lake Pukaki While the destinations you will be visiting are truly spectacular, we believe it is our small groups, our guides, the journey and the little details that set our tours well apart. Secret stops, wildlife viewings, specially designed vehicles and many other pleasant surprises ensure our tours are an experience to remember.

Christchurch: Guided Cave Stream and Castle Hill Tour

6. Christchurch: Guided Cave Stream and Castle Hill Tour

Your tour starts by following the "great alpine highway" west from Christchurch across the Canterbury Plains. After 45 minutes it will be time for a short break in the small rural town of Darfield. The Darfield Bakery is an excellent example of New Zealand cuisine, and a great place to pick up morning tea. Leaving Darfield and continuing west towards the Southern Alp's over Porters Pass, you will pass Lake Lyndon before arriving at Castle Hill/Kura Tawhiti. Castle Hill/Kura Tawhiti is one of New Zealand's most spectacular natural wonders. Whilst there your guide will show you around and explain to you why the area holds so much spiritual, recreational, and geological significance. You'll then enjoy a picnic lunch, tea, and coffee, which will be served amongst the boulders by your guide. After some free time, meet your guide back at the carpark for the short drive down to Cave Stream. Once having arrived at Cave Stream, your guide will kit you out with caving gear and provide you with a safety briefing before you head down to the cave entrance. The 600-meter limestone cave follows an underground river and takes most groups 45-60 minutes to complete. Inside the limestone cave, the crystal clear water flows through large chambers and over some small waterfall steps. The cave gets as narrow as a standard hallway, and you can always stand up whilst inside. Hot drinks and afternoon tea will be provided afterwards back at the carpark, before you head back towards Christchurch. On the way back, a short break in Springfield allows for a photo with the giant doughnut, which your guide will explain the background of. Back in Christchurch, you will be dropped off back to either your hotel or the meeting point at the Canterbury Museum in the city center.

Frequently asked questions about Christchurch

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What are the best day trips and excursions from Christchurch?

The best day trips and excursions from Christchurch are:

Darfield

Other Sightseeing Options in Christchurch

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What people are saying about Christchurch

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 15 reviews

Set out on a tour with Nat. he has excellent knowledge of geology and bouldering. Frittata at springfield pastry is a must get, super delicious. Nat is also good at looking out for good photo spots. Lunch is provided for and supplemented by tea which Nat made on the spot (reason why he brought a big pack)! Having lunch while watching castle rock was an amazing experience. Thanks Nat for being such a great guide!

Although there were just 2 of us on this trip, it was great fun. Sarah P, the guide, was excellent, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the area and bouldering and tailored the trip to our needs. Lunch and drinks were provided by Sarah and we sat in amongst the boulders in the shade to enjoy it. This trip was one of the best I have been on. Highly recommend it. Thank you Sarah, you were awesome.

A wonderful full day of sightseeing. The train is very enjoyable. However the highlight is the drive back down and the mini stops and small hikes and lookouts along the way.

Brilliant day tour, wonderfully kind guide, perfect for small children (our 3 year old managed all suggested walks)

Fantastic guide, very knowledgeable. Stops in all the best places to get pictures