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Many and varied are the delights of Ōtautahi, Christchurch, and its surrounding areas. Whether you like to potter locally or take a long distance trip, there are scenic drives and delightful destinations in every direction.

Almost all of them mentioned come personally sampled and recommended, so pick up your RentAClassic transport of delight near the airport and explore…

Christchurch City / CBD – 15 mins away

Shoppers delight with hop on, hop off trams in Christchurch City Centre

So much to see and enjoy – wander the expansive Hagley Park and Botanics Gardens, or go with the flow being punted along the River Avon. Visit the vibrant Art Gallery, informative Museum or the unique cardboard Cathedral, as well as the sobering Quake City exhibition. You could hop on a tram or an open top bus tour, but then again you’ve got one our far more comfy convertibles. For eateries, I’d recommend the brilliant Bunsens Café for indoors or outdoors lunching in the heart of the heritage precinct, getting your burgers and chips by vacuum tube at C1 Expresso or in the evening, dining on the circular historic Tramway, literally a moving feast! Or you could grab something from one of the many riverside restaurants and takeways, eating on the expansive steps by the river, watching the world and the swans go by. Plus there are of course some serious shopping options, including The Tannery or an outdoor market.

Christchurch City Outskirts – 10 – 30 mins away

Nip back to the Airport for a trip to the Antarctic Centre – without all the flying, but you can still sample the chill and the up and down of the Hoglands Express. Not too far away is the eclectic Yaldhurst Transport Museum, and the Orana or Willowbank Reserve Wildlife Parks. Further afield you’ll find many Wineries and magnificent views from the Christchurch Gondola, which are both combined back in the CBD at the Pink Lady Rooftop Wine Bar.

Day Drives – Sumner & New Brighton, Akaroa or Hanmer Springs

Different directions and different vibes, but all wonderful water filled destinations.

New Brighton Pier shines bright at Christchurch

Sumner and New Brighton are on the east side, small seaside suburbs with hip boutiques, a laid back vibe and beaches to at least get your toes wet in. Sumner offers nice vistas driving up in to the surrounding hills, New Brighton has the pier.

Akaroa is the land that the French forgot, a charming little town by the sea that’s well worth the hours winding hillside drive to get to aided by the stunning views en route. Plus you can also go swimming with dolphins – can’t do that in France.

Hanmer Springs is an hour and a half north, with a large complex for outdoor hot springs bathing, swimming, sliding or massage treatments. Plus there are lovely forest walks with easy cycle tracks and a lolly shop with all those things you weren’t allowed to gorge on as a kid…

Further afield – the Wild West Coast and the Superb Scenic South

These will need several days and the key to enjoying them is to not try and pack in too many miles at once. The driving demands are often under-estimated, but you’re in a very capable car on some of the most scenic roads in the world so relax and enjoy the stunning scenery which is definitely not to be rushed.

Hot Air ballooning Canterbury Plains

Methven, Geraldine, Ashburton – The Inland Scenic Route SH72

Small towns but with big views of Canterbury en route, especially if you combine it with a Balloon Trip, which this area is ideal for, along with skiing, hiking and fly fishing.

Arthurs Pass and Wild West Coast

Heading west you can ‘race’ the train, but you’re recommended to stop at Castle Hill with its impressive boulders used in many a famous film. Then once at the West Coast remember to keep your eyes on the road as you track alongside the vigorous, churning ocean.

Mount Cook / Aoraki National Park

The mountain itself is only for mountaineers, but the rest of us can do an easy 3 hour return walk to the foothills that takes in a glacier lake at the end. Still spectacular.

Lake Tekapo – Springs and Stargazing

Church of Good Shepherd Tekapo

It has the church and lake that launched a thousand Instagrams, but the crystal clear skies are a World Heritage designated star gazing site, and what better way to take them in than on a lilo in a hot pool at Tekapo Springs.

Lindis Pass to Wanaka and Queenstown

This is big country with big sweeping roads running alongside expansive lakes and rolling hillsides. Keep your fuel and yourself topped up as there’s not between settlements except a lot of gob smacking nature. Beyond Queenstown, the Glenorchy road is a drivers gem.

Kaikoura and Whale Watching

Heading north isn’t quite as awe inspiring, but seeing a whale surface is. Carry on north and you’ll track alongside the ocean and railway for many miles en route to Blenheim.

A complete fluke?! Capture a whale of a tail at Kaikoura

Stop at Ohau Point for relaxation and seal viewing and The Store, Kekerengu for refreshments and sea viewing.


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