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Canterbury

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Christchurch, Kaikoura and Lake Tekapo

The eclectic city of Christchurch and the vast Canterbury region are packed full of plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy on your next New Zealand road trip – no matter what kind of traveller you are.

Not only is Canterbury rich in beauty, but it also offers a wealth of unparalleled experiences. Get close to the whales in Kaikoura, swim with the world's rarest dolphins near the charming settlement of Akaroa, soak in a thermal hot pool in the alpine village of Hanmer Springs, tour New Zealand’s hottest wine region – Waipara, hoke through spectacular scenery near Arthur's pass, or make a pilgrimage to the highest peak in Australasia – Aoraki/Mount Cook.

Visitors and residents alike enjoy the unique playground of Canterbury, which stretches from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean. No matter your age or your budget, there is something for every kind of traveller in the Canterbury region and we think the best way to see and do more is in a Britz campervan.

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Popular Canterbury, Lake Tekapo & Kaikoura Road Trips & Itineraries

See Christchurch at it's very best. Explore the epic natural wonders that are spread throughout this region and take advantage of the lively hospitality scene of the inner city. Experience true adventure by using one of our itineraries to plan your trip.


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Things To Do in Christchurch & Canterbury

A lively city, there are many things to see and do in Christchurch. Spend some time here exploring the iconic parts of it that add to the funky vibe. Stroll around the Farmers Markets and sample some of the best Canterbury produce, explore the Canterbury Museum and find out what it would be like to be in the middle of an Antarctic storm at the International Antarctic Centre. Spend your afternoon taking a walk through Hagley Park before admiring the beautiful Botanic Gardens.

If you've got your bikes on board, head to Port Hills to explore some epic cycling tracks surrounded by views of Christchurch, the Canterbury PlainsBanks Peninsula and Lyttleton Harbour. Nearby you will also find the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve which has a kiwi breeding programme and hosts native New Zealand birdlife. Another nature experience that is perfect for families is a trip to Orana Wildlife Park where you can admire the animal kingdom in a peaceful and spacious environment.

Approximately 10 million years ago, the Banks Peninsula area was a highly active volcanic island, with the two main vents now being Akaroa and Lyttelton harbours. Get a taste of the French colonial past in Akaroa, a charming region with a strong influence on its developed culinary culture. Be sure to sample some of the locally sourced ingredients like salmon and crayfish. Embark on a wildlife cruise of Akaroa harbour and see Hector's dolphin.

Only 45 minutes north of Christchurch, Waipara is well known for its Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes. Spend a day discovering the incredible collection of award-winning wineries. Home to 13 wineries, 12 cellar doors, and four winery restaurants, it’s a premier wine-growing region.

Best known for its natural hot pools and picturesque views, Hanmer Springs is only a 90-minute drive from Christchurch. An attractive spot all year round, spend your time here embracing a mix of adventure and relaxation. Surrounded by dramatic mountain ranges and spectacular forests, this charming town is a must-see on any Canterbury road trip.

Things To Do in Kaikoura

Home to 20 metre-long gentle giants of the sea, Kaikoura is the ultimate place to view whales close to the shore. Sperm whales can be seen along the coast all year round, between June and July you might see humpback whales migrating, and from December to March Orcas are often spotted.

Paddle around the Kaikoura Peninsula and get up close to New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, and other local marine life. What better way to explore the beautiful Kaikoura coast than from your very own kayak? The experienced local guides will make sure you follow the best routes along the rugged coastline to make sure you get the best opportunity to interact with the Kaikoura wildlife.

Kaikoura’s epic scenery is best explored on foot. With an abundance of coastal walks for you to explore, we recommend the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. Observe seals, seabirds, historic pa, and whaling sites as you take in panoramic clifftop views of the sea and mountain. This walk is suitable for all kinds of fitness levels and perfect for the whole family. The whole walkway takes three hours but there are some options for shorter tracks if you prefer.

Located in the landmark “craypot” building, the Kaikoura Museum is the perfect rainy-day activity. Discover the history of fishing and whaling and how it helped shape Kaikoura into the town it is today. Home to impressive collections, exhibitions, events, and programmes exploring and enjoying the diverse history of Kaikoura is an activity the whole family will love.

Kaikoura is home to an epic collection of mountain bike trails that will take you through a range of landscapes, from rugged coastlines to towering mountain ranges. With tracks catering to all levels of experience, from casual family trails to challenging climbs, exploring these tracks is a must-do. Don’t forget to add a bike rack to your campervan hire!

Things To Do in Lake Tekapo

Famed for its phenomenal night sky, it wouldn’t be a trip to Lake Tekapo without spending a night gazing at the sky. The area is one of the only Dark Sky Reserves in New Zealand and is one of the best places to stargaze in the country. The Mount John Observatory is an incredible mountaintop stargazing experience. Taking 105 minutes total, spend an evening hearing about the science and stories of the night sky from a knowledgeable guide. If you’re looking for something different, check out the Stargazing and Tekapo Springs tour and soak in a hot pool while gazing up at the dark sky reserve with your nearest and dearest.

Lupin season in New Zealand is a popular time to visit the shores of Lake Tekapo. These gorgeous flowers bring in visitors from all over. The best time to visit to see Lupins in all their glory is between mid-November to the end of December. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this incredible sight!

Located amidst the lake and mountains, the Church of the Good Shepherd is hard to miss on your road trip through this region. Claiming the title of the ‘most photographed building in New Zealand’ this is a must-see with the incredible building against the spectacular Lake Tekapo backdrop.

If you’re up for a challenge, the Mt John Summit Track takes around 90 minutes through a range of terrains, from forest to tussock hills. The track starts just before Tekapo Springs and is well sign-posted. Make sure you pack a strong SPF and insect repellent to keep the sandflies away.

After a busy day of exploring, there’s no better way to unwind than having a soak at the Tekapo Springs. Only a 5-minute drive from the Church of the Good Shepherd, head here for your afternoon and relax in one of 3 large outdoor hot pools with water sourced from an underground spring. This soft alpine water will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated for the rest of your trip. The best time to visit is just before sunset to witness the incredible views over snow-capped mountains.

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Britz Campervan Branches

Christchurch

If you’re looking for the perfect starting point to explore the Canterbury and Kaikoura regions, picking up your camper from the Britz Christchurch branch is just the ticket. Head north to Kaikoura to encounter local wildlife or south towards Queenstown for an action-packed adventure.

Queenstown

The Britz Queenstown branch lies at the bottom half of the South Island and is a great one way hire option. Choose between travelling inland past Lake Tekapo, or along the east coast through Timaru and Oamaru and drop off your camper in Christchurch.

Auckland

The road trip from Britz Auckland to Christchurch takes around 16 hours and includes a ferry trip across the Cook Strait. This is a big drive but is the perfect option if you’re after a long holiday and want to tick off as many sights of New Zealand in one trip. Make plenty of stops along the way and enjoy the everchanging scenery as you head from the North Island to the stunning South.

Helpful Tips For Visiting Canterbury, Kaikoura & Lake Tekapo


Climate and Seasons in Canterbury

The Canterbury region enjoys warm summers, and cooler winters. Maximum temperatures in summer are typically in the 27–33-degree range. Winter temperatures usually fall somewhere between 2 – and 12 degrees.

Nearby Attractions and Day Trips

The Hurunui District

A 90-minute drive north of Christchurch will take you through the beautiful scenery of the Waipara Valley. With stunning landscapes and incredible food and wine, this escape makes for the perfect day trip. Stop in at Fossil Point for some morning sustenance before exploring the Cathedral Cliffs on your way to Gore Bay. Spend your afternoon watching the surfers at Gore Bay, having a swim, or discovering the round rocks under the cliffs.

Arthur’s Pass National Park

2 hours west of Christchurch, you will find Arthur’s Pass National Park. Home to incredible nature and scenery, spend a day here exploring all that this epic spot has to offer. With plenty of walks in the area, as well as an abundance of local wildlife – if you’re looking to spend some time embracing the great outdoors, this is the perfect day trip for you.

Waimakariri

Pack your fridge full of picnic food and head off to discover the Waimakariri District. Packed with beauty, slower-paced country towns, and beach settlements there is plenty of exploring to be done here. Visit Kaiapoi, 20 minutes out of Christchurch, and enjoy a local brew as you look over the river. Looking for a spot for shopping? Escape the hustle of malls and embrace fresh air as you explore the boutiques of the Waimakariri urban center. End your day by visiting Waikuku Beach, packed with fun for the whole family.

What to pack

  • Be sure to pack multiple thin layers, rather than one heavy jacket, so you can be comfortable no matter what the weather brings. Fabrics such as merino wool are good as well. If you are exploring the outdoors, make sure to bring wet weather gear as well as some comfortable walking shoes.
  • Campervan add-ons. If you are bringing a bike, all three Britz branches offer bike rack hire which you can add to your campervan hire.
  • Sun protection. Be sure to pack a bottle of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses – especially if you are visiting in summer and planning to make the most of the region's epic outdoors.

Where to stay in Christchurch

Where to stay in Kaikoura

Where to stay in Lake Tekapo