Add dates

Things to do in
Canterbury, New Zealand

Our most recommended things to do in Canterbury, New Zealand

Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

1. Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

Take a whale-watching cruise off the Kaikoura coast, and see giant sperm whales in their natural environment. Enjoy onboard commentary as you encounter a range of wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Set sail on a catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Take in the views from the large outdoor decks or stay inside the air-conditioned interiors with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying marine wildlife animations. Gain an insight into the habitat with scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these creatures from the crew. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel's capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

Kaikoura: 40-Minute Whale Watching Flight with Commentary

2. Kaikoura: 40-Minute Whale Watching Flight with Commentary

Enjoy a panoramic whale-watching flight, with stunning scenic views along the spectacular Kaikoura coastline. Only from the air can you appreciate the huge size of the mighty sperm whale, a frequent visitor to the waters off Kaikoura. After a safety briefing and overview of your scenic flight, hop onboard for your whale-watching adventure in the skies. Every passenger gets a guaranteed window seat to enjoy maximum viewing of the ocean and its inhabitants below. On your 40-minute whale-watching flight, you may see sperm whales, dusky dolphins, humpback whales, blue whales, orcas, and other marine life. After finding whales enjoy a scenic flight of Kaikoura and the dramatic surrounding scenery, including snow-clad mountain ranges and turquoise ocean reefs. Whales are wild animals and sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, with over 30 years of experience and extensive local knowledge, the activity provider aims to give the best chance of sightings. Honest information on the likelihood of spotting a whale will be provided before the flight.

Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

3. Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

Take in some of New Zealand’s most impressive mountains during a helicopter ride. Land among them for even more spectacular views and fantastic photo opportunities. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a van transfer to the hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to enjoy your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley over the ice river. Take in the ice pinnacles and crevasses before flying onwards amongst the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated snow landing site to enjoy stunning views of some of New Zealand’s highest mountains. Have 10-minutes to take incredible photos before returning to the hangar.

Lake Tekapo: Stargazing Experience

4. Lake Tekapo: Stargazing Experience

Experience this once-in-a-lifetime stargazing experience in the Dark Sky Reserve at Lake Tekapo. Look through a telescope to spot deep sky objects and learn interesting facts about the night sky. Begin your tour as your guide escorts you to an unbelievable stargazing location where there is nearly zero light pollution. Head on a journey with your professional astronomy guide and hear ancient stories of constellations to science facts, Greek mythology to Maori legends. See a variety of deep sky objects through a powerful 9.25-inch computerised telescope. During the experience, the team provides a photography service, your guide will take individual photos for you with the stars. Stay warm and comfortable with seats and blankets, as well as pillows, mattresses and blankets that will be set up for you to enjoy the night sky. Enjoy a hot chocolate and at the end of the tour, your guide will light the fire bowl so you can roast marshmallows with your friends and family.

Christchurch: Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo Ticket

5. Christchurch: Tram, Punt and Gondola Ride Combo Ticket

Experience Christchurch from different perspectives with a combined city tour by vintage Tram, Punt along the Avon River, and cable car ride aboard the Christchurch Gondola. Climb aboard a classic, flat-bottomed boat for a delightful 30-minute Punt ride along the Avon River. Before your tour, reserve a timeslot prior to arrival to venture through the city center propelled by a boatman dressed in Edwardian costume. 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 Discovery ride 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, browse the "Shop at the Top" or hike one of the many walking trails, such as the trek to volcanic-formed Crater Rim. Please note the Christchurch Gondola is located 15 minutes from the city centre and a 10 minute drive from Lyttelton port. 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. 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 18 strategic stops. Discover the vast urban space of Hagley Park, explore the boutique stores of New Regent Street and much more!

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 Discovery 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 18 stops, where you can hop on and off as often as you wish. Visit Riverside Market, Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Junction, Canterbury Museum, and much more.  

Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

7. 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.

Christchurch: Hop-On Hop-Off Tour by Vintage Tram

8. Christchurch: Hop-On Hop-Off Tour by Vintage Tram

Climb aboard a vintage tram for a unique tour of Christchurch, and see the “Garden City” at your own pace with a full-day hop-on and hop-off tram ticket. Travel through the regenerated city center to see innovative architecture, See how the city center has been rebuilt after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. 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 18 stops. The tram currently starts at Cathedral Junction and travels through Cathedral Square, before passing the River Avon. Jump off at the Canterbury Museum, just a short stroll from the Botanic Garden and Arts Center. Discover the city’s largest urban space at Hagley Park, or explore the boutique stores of New Regent Street, New Zealand’s “Most Beautiful Street.”

Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

9. Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

Experience Mount Cook National Park from the sky. Enjoy a 25-minute scenic adventure that includes an alpine landing amongst the mountains. Have exceptional views of Aoraki (Mt Cook) and the surrounding snow-capped mountain ranges right from take off.  Be captivated throughout the entire flight. Explore the valleys and peaks of the national park. Journey through the Tasman Valley and over a breathtaking blue glacier lake. Experience an alpine landing on the stunning upper snowfields in the Southern Alps.  Disembark the aircraft and enjoy the elevated alpine landscape before returning to the helicopter to fly back to Mount Cook Airport. Your expert pilot will offer informative and interesting commentary throughout the flight to ensure you receive the best possible experience.

Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

10. Kaikoura: Half-Day Wildlife Kayaking Tour

Begin your adventure in the town of Kaikoura where you will meet your professional guides. Receive a short safety briefing and paddling lesson before being allocated all the necessary equipment for the tour. Head out on the waters of the beautiful ocean surrounding the city. Kayak along the Kaikoura coastline, where you will take in the magnificent views of sheer cliff faces, craggy rocks, and mountain ranges while searching for chance encounters with Dusky Dolphins and Blue Penguins. Experience the excitement of watching cute fur seals ducking, weaving, and diving around your kayak. During your tour, you will have the opportunity to paddle gently along with these beautiful animals as they swim around the Kaikoura Peninsula hunting for their favourite feed of octopus. This tour is suitable for all ages and abilities while operating year-round, and doesn't require any previous kayaking experience. Encounter a diverse range of wildlife on the New Zealand coastline and see some of the country's most beautiful animals.

Top activities

Top sights in Canterbury, New Zealand

All activities

155 activities found
Sort by:

Frequently asked questions about Canterbury, New Zealand

What top attractions are a must-see in Canterbury, New Zealand?

The must-see attractions in Canterbury, New Zealand are:

What are the best deals and discounts on activities and attractions in Canterbury, New Zealand?

Other Sightseeing Options in Canterbury, New Zealand

Want to discover all there is to do in Canterbury, New Zealand? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 2,212 reviews

This was a great excursion. On a sailboat. We had about 15 people plus 3 crew members on board. The tour narration was interesting. We wondered if a 3 hr cruise would feel too long. I think it was just right. We were able to see a lot of dolphins as they swam around our boat and then raced along when we were moving faster.

The whole package was brilliant; a bit different and varied. From beautiful scenery, a fabulous walk, fun accommodation (we stayed in the tree house -take a torch, meeting the penguins and kayaking. The only improvement I would suggest is more information about where to go and when during the 24 hours

What a fantastic day! Couldn’t recommend Altitude more - the best company we’ve used here for a tour. Sinchan was such an amazing tour guide as well - so knowledgable and enthusiastic! Thanks, Sinchan! :) - Vicky

Loved the water and the seals! Overall was a fun experience.

Went with wife and adult son (not an option below)