Our personal Top 10 in the Canterbury Region – Backpacking Tips

Here you can find our personal highlights from the Canterbury region

The Canterbury Region stretches around Christchurch. Besides Kaikoura, the Canterbury region also includes the Arthurs Pass and the Banks Peninsula. There are many beautiful places to discover, some of which not everyone has in mind. Have fun discovering our personal highlights of the Canterbury Region.


Banks Peninsula

The Banks Peninsula is located east of Christchurch and includes some smaller hills. The highest mountain is Mount Herbert. Also, the small former French city of Akaroa is located on the Banks Peninsula. Akaroa is especially famous for its French buildings and the chance to go dolphin watching in the bay off Akaroa.

For particularly beautiful views of the bay and mountains we can recommend the so-called Summit Road. But be careful with larger vehicles, because the road is narrow, curvy and winds along the ridges. Therefore, always drive slowly and comfortably. In the winter, special caution is required because it can quickly become slippery here.


View on the bays at Banks Peninsula

Lookout on the bays of the Banks Peninsula


Tasman Glacier

Located in Mt Cook National Park, Tasman Glacier is 27km long, 3km wide and 600m thick, just 5km from the top of Mt Cook. From Tasman Glacier Car Park, several hikes lead to spectacular scenes. The Blue Lake (which is now green) is reached after 10 minutes, another 20 minutes uphill you are above Tasman Lake, where even small icebergs are floating around. 7km long, 2km wide, 245m deep and the Tasman Glacier is still growing. Due to the strong earthquake in Christchurch in 2011 about 30 million tons of ice have fallen from the glacier and caused a 3 1/2 m high tidal wave. The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand's largest glacier, in winter about 50m of snow falls, in summer 7m remain. The view from there is breath-taking and uniquely beautiful. Depending on the weather it is not always possible to go there in winter. In summer, on a clear day, it is even more beautiful.


Tasman Valley Glacier Lake

Tasman Glacier Valley Lookout


Arthur's Pass

We are in the year 1864, gold was just found on the west coast when Arthur Dudley Dobson discovered the road over the pass. With the beginning of the gold rush on the west coast, the inhabitants of the east coast demanded a quick way to participate as well. So, the direct way was over the pass. With shovel and pickaxe, the road was driven into the mountain.

Today the Arthurs Pass is the most beautiful of the 3 pass roads and is situated at 920m. At the many lookout points, where you can admire the beautiful landscape, the cheeky Keas do their mischief and lurk unguarded rubber seals. At the Devils Corner there is probably the best view. The road here has a gradient of 16% and the canyon, which is spanned by a 300m long bridge, seems to be almost bottomless.


Arthurs Pass and it's surrounding mountains

View on the Mountains around Arthurs Pass


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Mount Fyffe

Mount Fyffe is located near Kaikoura and offers you a great hike to the Mount Fyffe Summit. Only recommended in summer, you can enjoy a perfect 360-degree view from the summit at 1602 meters above sea level. The hike takes between four to six hours depending on your fitness and endurance. There is a small parking lot at the foot of the mountain, from there you can walk up a wide and steep path towards the summit. In between there are several places to enjoy the view, there is also a mountain hut at 1100 meters altitude. For a relaxing night with a suitable sleeping bag you can also get a hut ticket for this wonderful hut from the DOC. Altogether we have already done the hike to Mount Fyffe Summit twice. Once in February where it was possible without problems. The second attempt was in September, there was still a lot of snow from about 1300 meters altitude and we didn't make it to the summit. Therefore, check the weather forecast for that day before you start your hike.


View from Mt. Fyffe to Kaikoura

View from Mt. Fyffe to Kaikoura


Mt. Cook

Aoraki/Mt. Cook, as it is officially called, is New Zealand's highest mountain, its peak is at 3724m. Located in the middle of Mt. Cook National Park, you are surrounded by picturesque landscapes. The national park is 707km² and includes countless peaks over 2000m, 40% of the park consists of glaciers. From the parking lot there are numerous hiking tours that lead one to glacier lakes and up to the glacier itself. In winter, many hiking tours should be enjoyed with caution, also one should arrive early, otherwise the clouds will take away the majestic view.


Mount Cook View

The view on Mount Cook & Lake Pukaki is awesome


Lake Pukaki

The white peaks of the surrounding mountains are reflected in the blue shimmering water. The sun is just setting and colours the sky orange-red. Later in the night the stars and the Milky Way are reflected in the lake. A scene like from the movie, but real! The 80-90km^2 large Lake Pukaki is located between the New Zealand Alps and is a result of former glaciers. The lake owes the incredibly beautiful blue colour of its water to the surrounding glaciers that feed the lake. On the southern shore of Lake Pukaki you can spend the night free of charge and enjoy the breath-taking scenery.


Lake Pukaki view

The view on Lake Pukaki


Cookie Time Factory Christchurch

Cookies of all shapes and sizes are found almost everywhere, so why is the Cookie Time Factory so special? In 1983 the doors of the Cookie Time Factory opened for the first time. Besides the countless cookies and other treats that fill a whole shop, there is something special – the ‘fragments'. Not only the ‘pretty' cookies are sold, but also broken cookies and edge pieces that would otherwise be thrown away. The broken goods are offered in 1 kg packages, at a bargain price! In 1996 the Cookie Time Factory attracted attention with the largest cookie in the world. With 487m^2 it even made it into the Guinness Book of Records! It seems that tradition is also very important, the family recipe has not been changed until today.


Cookie stack

Cookies – Photo by Whitney Wright on Unsplash


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A small town right on the sea front, surrounded by rolling hills from which you have a wonderful view of the coast and its inhabitants. The name Kaikoura is derived from the Maori language, “Kai” means “eat/meal”, “koura” stands for crab/lobster. The name makes sense as soon as you look at the geographical features of the coast: over about 1.5 km from the mainland the sea floor drops to 1600m and offers a perfect habitat for large and small marine animals. Kaikoura is famous for whale sightings and whale watching from boat or plane.

Also, the Seal Colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula is a perfect day trip. Nowhere else have we seen so many seals right on the beach. You can also do a short hike of two to three hours from here. If you want to see a seal up close, this is your chance.


Seal Colony Kaikoura

The seals in Kaikoura are one of the largest colonies within New Zealand


Lake Tekapo

The 95km^2 large glacial lake stretches over 25km. On its western flank, the New Zealand Alps rise up, and on windless days the peaks, some of which are covered in snow, are reflected in the crystal-clear turquoise-blue water. On the southern shore of the lake there is a small church, the “Church of the Good Shepherd”. Within 8 months the small church was built and finished in August 1935. Situated on a small hill you have a fantastic view over the lake and the surrounding mountains. Masses are still held in the church, outside it is available for sightseeing. This small, rustic church in front of the extensive lake and surrounded by the impressive Alps should not be missed!


Church of the Good Shepherd

The well known famous Church of the Good Shepherd based at Lake Pukaki


Moreaki Boulders

The Koekohe Beach, a beach like any other? Not at all! There is the blue sea on the right, green forest on the left and in front of a white and soft sand beach, as far as everything is normal, but then you meet the boulderers. Boulder means translated into German as “part of rock”, but that doesn't come close to it. Rock ball would probably rather be the right word, because that's exactly what they are. 0.5-2.2m big rock balls, in the middle of the beach. The boulders were formed about 4 to 5.5 million years ago at the bottom of the sea by cementation, so they were not 'rounded' by the water. The boulders are spread all over the beach, sometimes in groups together, sometimes individually. Definitely worth a visit, these are probably the most unusual ‘boulders' and in such a fantastic scenery.

Note that there are two parking possibilities. One is the official free parking place and the other is a “private” parking place that leads faster to the beach but costs a small entrance fee. The free official parking lot is straight ahead after you crossed the railway tracks. The parking lot at the café is directly after the train tracks on the left. Funnily enough, the Café parking lot is signposted while the free parking lot has no other signs.


Moeraki Beach with the famous boulders

Moeraki Boulders and the famous beach


Questions or comments

What did you like best? You got another inside tip we don't know about? We are looking forward to your comment under this article!


More posts to the New Zealand Regions

We have made a map for your easy navigation, with which you can visit the respective contribution to the region directly. Have a look around what we like in the other regions!



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