Things to do in
Canterbury, New Zealand

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Our most recommended things to do in Canterbury, New Zealand

Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

1. Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

Cruise along the scenic Kaikoura coast as you watch for dolphins. During the cruise, you'll be able to swim with the dolphins in their natural habitat or watch their antics from the comfort of the boat. Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter the Dusky Dolphins in their natural environment. The Dusky Dolphins are some of the most interactive and acrobatic species of dolphins, making them thrilling to watch and interact with. 

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Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

2. Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

Experience an award-winning nature cruise of Akaroa Habor. Discover wildlife like dolphins, seals, penguins, and other seabirds. Gaze upon giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.  Travel on a modern catamaran, which is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. There's lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating for shade and shelter. Inside, for your convenience you'll find a bar and washrooms. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and the history of the harbour. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

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Christchurch International Antarctic Center Entry Tickets

3. Christchurch International Antarctic Center Entry Tickets

Embark on a journey through Antarctica without leaving Christchurch. Visit one of New Zealand's best tourist attractions, the International Antarctic Center. Visitors of all ages will enjoy an interactive, fun and exciting experience of Antarctica. Experience snow and ice, an Antarctic storm, take the polar plunge ice water challenge, learn about life in modern modern-day Antarctica and Scott Base, and hang out with Little Blue Penguins. Try the famously exciting Hagglund ride and an awesome simulated 4D cruise Ice Voyage. The entry ticket is the closest way to experience Antarctica, without mounting your own expedition. You can also enjoy a personalized commentary on your journey to Antarctica with an audio guide tour available in English, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Thai, German, French, and Spanish.

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Christchurch: Vintage Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo

4. Christchurch: Vintage Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo

Experience Christchurch from different perspectives with a combined city tour by vintage tram, punt along the River Avon and cable car ride aboard the Christchurch Gondola. Climb aboard a classic, flat-bottomed boat for a delightful punt along the River Avon. Venture through the city center propelled by a boatman dressed in Edwardian costume. Set off from Worcester Street Bridge and listen to the live commentary about how the city was rebuilt after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and remains fast-growing. See the beautiful alpine scenery surrounding Christchurch and its suburbs on board the Christchurch Gondola cable car. Explore the history of the region in the unique Time Tunnel experience, and pause for refreshments at the Red Rock Café. Marvel at the Southern Alps and Kaikoura Mountains, and get 360-degree views of the plains, mountains, city and harbor from the glass-enclosed cabin. Once at the summit, purchase souvenirs in the "Shop at the Top" or go for a hike on one of the many walking trails, such as the trek to Crater Rim, formed by the volcanic activity that created Port Hills. Journey by vintage tram and see the “Garden City” at your own pace with a full-day hop-on and hop-off ticket. Explore the regenerated city center to see innovative architecture, such as a shopping complex made out of shipping containers. Listen to a fascinating commentary from your driver as you take a full circuit in just 50 minutes, or jump on and off at leisure at 17 strategic stops. Discover the vast urban space of Hagley Park, explore the boutique stores of New Regent Street and much more!

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Christchurch Tramway Restaurant 4 Course Dinner Tour

5. Christchurch Tramway Restaurant 4 Course Dinner Tour

Climb aboard a vintage tram for a unique dinner tour of Christchurch. Admire the city’s sights illuminated for the night as you dine on a 4-course, chef prepared menu. The colonial-style Christchurch Tram has been fully refurbished inside and out to create a cozy, intimate experience. It’s fully air-conditioned for comfortable dining at any time of year. Enjoy a complimentary drink on arrival. Glide past city highlights, such as the Avon River and Botanic Gardens on a 2.5-hour journey through the city center. See how the city has been rebuilt since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Popular with locals and out-of-towners, the dinner tour features chef-prepared menus in a dining car for up to 36 people. Enjoy seasonal fare served from the tram’s tiny kitchen, including a first course, main course and dessert. As well as a creative selection of innovative meals, the chefs can also cater to specific dietary requirements with prior notice.

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Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo

6. Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo

Climb aboard the Christchurch Gondola cable car and enjoy spectacular 360-degree views across the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps as you glide across the slopes of Mount Cavendish in the Port Hills. See as far as the city and harbor as you ride up to the summit 445 meters above sea level. Make use of the facilities at the top, such as the Time Tunnel ride, a dramatic reconstruction of the history of the region. Revive your spirits at the Red Rock Café before or after going for a walk or bike ride along the many nature trails. Take a unique sightseeing tour of the inner city aboard an antique tram as the driver provides a live and entertaining commentary. A full circuit takes 50 minutes and includes 17 stops, where you can hop on and off as often as you wish. Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Junction, Canterbury Museum, and much more.  

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Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

7. Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

Take a whale watching cruise off the Kaikoura coast, and see giant sperm whales in their natural environment. Enjoy up-close encounters with a range of other wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Your experienced crew will provide scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these amazing creatures throughout the tour. Set sail in a modern catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Large outdoor decks offer great viewing and photo opportunities, and the air-conditioned interiors are fitted with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying award-winning marine wildlife animations. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel carrying capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

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Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

8. 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. On your return journey, visit the Alpine Lavender Farm and capture some beautiful moments in the pristine environment.

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Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

9. Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

Explore the pristine night sky, stunning summit surroundings, and sophisticated viewing technologies as expert guides share the science and stories of New Zealand's skies on a stargazing tour. Make your way up Mount John on foot to the renowned Mount John Observatory, which is in partnership with the University of Canterbury. Hear stories about the stars, galaxies, and planets from your guides. The unpolluted environment around Lake Tekapo provides outstanding conditions for observations and discoveries of the southern sky.

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Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

10. Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

Swim with the endangered Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. On New Zealand’s ultimate dolphin experience, you’ll have the chance to see and swim with Hector's dolphins close up, in the wild.  Check-in at Akaroa’s main wharf and meet the friendly crew who will provide you with a warm wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, gloves, and a hood if necessary. Climb aboard the jet-powered catamaran and cruise out into the sheltered harbor. The highly trained crew will give you a safety briefing and explain how to interact responsibly with the dolphins.  With only 12 swimmers permitted per vessel, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing the dolphins up close. Gear up and slip into the tranquil harbor waters to join the dolphins their natural habitat. The covered vessel has no propellers, making it safer for you and the dolphins. Warm up in the heated cabin or take a hot shower afterwards. Hector's dolphins are protected in Akaroa Harbor by a marine mammal sanctuary. The tour operator was the first cruise boat company in the world to gain the coveted Green Globe 21, an international program to ensure best environmental practices. A portion of every ticket sale goes towards the research and conservation of Hector's dolphins.

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Frequently asked questions about Canterbury, New Zealand

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What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,189 reviews

Booking office staff very friendly, informative, great handout activity book for the young children in the group. Great boat trip around the harbour and out to sea, enjoyed the captains commentary on the local history, scenic sights and wildlife.

Anujk is extremely knowledgeable local guide who knows Aotearoa North to South, and east to west. You will enjoy his tours and information and also great hospitality and world class customer service.

Wonderful cruise! We saw plenty albatrosses, gulls and penguins too. Gary was a very knowledgeable person and answered all our queries.

It was a fantastic experience. Close to Christchurch. The guide was very experienced, informative and made the walk enjoyable.

Anuj was such a wonderful guide, providing insights en route and a never drove rashly. Thanks for making trip so memorable!