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The Canterbury Region includes a large central portion of the East Coast of the South Island, centred around the city of Christchurch .

From the silvery beaches of the East Coast to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps, the Canterbury landscape is impossible to ignore. Big scenery is the order of the day—huge panoramas of ocean or mountains, great sweeps of pastureland, massive amounts of sky.

It's easy to be awestruck—but if you want to be totally flabbergasted, take a hot air balloon ride. The experience of floating across the Canterbury Plains with the majesty of the Southern Alps behind you will ingrain itself on your memory forever.

The highest point of the region is the highest point of New Zealand. The spectacular Aoraki /Mount Cook stands at 3,754 metres ( Aoraki is Maori for Cloud Piercer ). At the other end of the scale, the submarine trenches off the coast of Kaikoura are thousands of metres deep, providing an ideal environment for the whales, dolphins and seals that live there permanently.

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NZstays - Hightlights of North Canterbury

Two hours north of Christchurch is Kaikoura , where the mountains meet the sea. Fur seals lounge on rocks just metres from the shore, dusky and Hector`s dolphins frolic in the sea within sight of town, while only a few kilometres further out, giant sperm whales haunt the depths. The sperm whale can be seen all year round off Kaikoura and is the third largest whale in the world, only beaten by the blue and fin whales.

Not far from Kaikoura is the scenic alpine and thermal village of Hanmer Springs. Since 1859 this spa town has attracted visitors seeking to relax, unwind and ease their aches and pains in the soothing mineral waters. There is a variety of outdoor activities on offer in Hanmer Springs, including skiing, mountain biking, forest walks, river rafting and bungy jumping. While just north of Christchurch , take time out to discover the wine makers of the beautiful Waipara Valley .

Inland from Christchurch on the Great Alpine Highway, State Highway 73, lie the magnificent Southern Alps—only an hour from the Christchurch . The villages of Springfield and Arthur`s Pass make ideal bases for all kinds of activities—visit the information centres for bookings and more information. You can also experience the TranzAlpine —one of the world`s most spectacular train journeys that takes you from Christchurch to Greymouth .

Step back into New Zealand `s past in Akaroa , Canterbury `s oldest village. You`ll hear about Maori, whaling, French and British history. Natural history is another topic to explore—in summer you might even get the chance to swim with the world`s rarest dolphin, the Hector`s dolphin.

South of Christchurch lie the Ashburton and Timaru districts. Ashburton district is home to all kinds of exciting activities like skiing, hot air ballooning and salmon fishing. Timaru district features many attractive towns, rolling green hills, lush pasture and braided rivers.

NZstays - Main Centres in North Canterbury

- Christchurch - the largest city in the South Island
- Kaikoura - translated from Maori means `a place for eating crayfish`
- Hanmer Springs - a peaceful alpine village
- Timaru - features significant Maori rock art collections
- Lake Tekapo - beautiful lakeside town
- Methven - gateway to Mount Hutt
- Akaroa - attractive village with a French history
- Darfield - gateway to the scenic attractions of the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers
- Springfield - gateway to the Southern Alps and the diverse journey through the Great Alpine Highway 73
- The MacKenzie Country is a high inland basin beneath the Southern Alps and Aoraki /Mt Cook . Aoraki /Mt Cook is New Zealand `s highest mountain at 3,754 metres . Main centres include Fairlie , Lake Tekapo , Aoraki /Mt Cook and Twizel.

NZstays - North Canterbury Region

The most French town in New Zealand, Akaroa will have you entranced with its historic buildings, magnificent harbour and passion for fine food.

The city of Christchurch promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. It’s an excellent base for Canterbury explorations.

Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs is purpose-built for rest and rejuvenation. There’s never a dull moment while you work your way through the area’s outdoor adventures.

The picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura is all about adventure on or near the sea. Watch whales, snorkel with seals or tuck into a plate of crayfish.

Amberley is a place to find country hospitality on your journey through North Canterbury. Enjoy fresh air and mountain views – golf and fishing too!

Arthur`s Pass
The alpine village of Arthur’s Pass is a base for mountain adventures. Walk to a waterfall, hike to alpine meadows, climb a peak or hunt for red deer.

A taste of Cheviot hospitality might be just what you need on the road between Christchurch and Kaikoura. This rural town is very welcoming.

Kaiapoi was once the site of a major Ngai Tahu trading settlement. You can visit the pa, which appears as a series of low grassy mounds.

Harbour cruises and great cafés attract visitors to the historic port town of Lyttelton, just twenty minutes from the centre of Christchurch city.

In winter, Methven is a snow sport town. In every other season, it’s a place to launch yourself into all kinds of outdoor adventure activities.

The Mina railway station serves Cheviot and other settlements in coastal North Canterbury.

The thriving country town of Rangiora serves the local agricultural and horticultural community. There’s no better place to enjoy Canterbury lamb.

Wine is the reason to stay a while in Waipara. The area is known for superb Pinot Noir and Riesling. You’ll also find some wonderful food experiences.