South Canterbury

Visit South Canterbury, New Zealand

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  • South Canterbury includes the Canterbury Plains south of the Rakaia River near Christchurch to the Waimate River, Canterbury’s border with province of Otago. It extends from rugged coastline across many-rivered plains to foothills leading to mountains.

    Canterbury Ski Area - Ski Season for 2014

    • Mt Hutt - Opening 7 June 2014
    • Mt Dobson from July 2014
    • Tekapo (Round Hill) from July 2014
    • Fox Peak – from June/July, as snowfall permits

    Click here for information on skiing in the South Island

    South Canterbury is known for its skiing, salmon fishing, mountain biking, history and archaeological interest. Methven,Geraldine and Ashburton are the main towns in the region, with the port Timaru in the south being its only city.

    The region has the best salmon fishing rivers in New Zealand, in particular, the Rangitata River. Kayaking, rafting, horse trekking and mountain biking are also popular in and along the rivers.

    The Opihi and Opuha Rivers, near Timaru, bear testament to ancient occupation of these lands, with rare cave paintings and rock carvings to be found. Museums bear exhibits concerning the archaeology as well as the modern history of the region, which includes the early industry of whaling, followed by later activity in logging and farming.

    Forest parks and river gorges in the hills at the western edge of the district provide great opportunities for camping, tramping hunting and mountain biking. There are many ski areas within easy reach, and direct access to the centralMackenzie District, with its many alpine lakes and views of the Southern Alps’ highest peaks, including Mount Cook.

    Golfing is traditionally very popular in this region, with dozens of 9- and 18-hole courses within easy reach. Cycling has also become popular in recent decades, and a number of excellent road cycling and mountain biking routes have been developed.

    Peel Forest near Timaru is a popular holiday destination for many, being a wilderness area that contains a rare stand of remnant native forest, rich in ancient trees, native ferns and birdlife.

    Mount Somers conservation area is also a popular destination - a region of volcanic formations, canyons, native bush, and tussock grasslands.

    Such wilderness areas are ideal locations to begin challenging alpine treks on unmarked routes into the South Island’s wild interior. Such activities require a high level of fitness and preparation. Alternatively, the scenery can be appreciated from the air during scenic flights. Helicopter transport provides photographers, hunters and skiers with quick access to wilderness areas.

    Independent travellers can enjoy visits to charming villages such as Pleasant Point, Geraldine, Temuka and Ashburton as they journey north or south through the region. Each town has its own particular personality and features. For example, Geraldine is known for its shopping and arts, while Temuka is famous for its pottery that had used local clays to manufacture crockery for generations of New Zealanders.

    The town of Ashburton, by the Ashburton River, in the middle of rich, fertile plains, is an agricultural centre, and the third largest settlement in Canterbury. It has some interesting claims to fame, having a kite making factory, a Rolls Royce/Bentley restoration works, New Zealand’s only bus manufacturer, and the world’s largest spinning wheel producer.

    Beaches near Ashburton are too dangerous for swimming. A man-made lake, Lake Hood, provides a place for swimming, boating and waterside recreations.

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    South Canterbury