The Canterbury Region of New Zealand is located on the South Island and is the largest region in the country, encompassing Pacific coastline to some of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps. The largest city of the region is Christchurch with the second most populous urban area in New Zealand at around 370,000 people. The Canterbury Plains cover much of the area with its rich farmland providing a majority of the wheat, barley, and oats for the country as well as producing a number of respected wines. There is quite a number of interesting tourist destinations here including beaches, parks, mountains, charming small towns, and plenty to do in Christchurch alone, so let's take a look at some of the most interesting things to do in Canterbury.
In Christchurch one of the nicest places to spend an afternoon is at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens with an extensive rose garden, an herb garden, and tons of plants from around the world that provide year round natural beauty. The Christchurch Art Gallery is a gorgeous building with several sculptures outside which provide nice photo opportunities as well as an extensive art collection which contains over 6,000 works of art. Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand's only open range zoo, with lions and tigers roaming around you while you drive by in a protected truck. Adrenaline Forest is a unique attraction with obstacle courses of varying difficulty, taking you up off the ground for a challenging adventure in the trees. Other interesting attractions in Christchurch include the Air Force Museum, the Court Theatre, and Cassels and Sons Brewery.
For natural attractions the Canterbury region doesn't disappoint either with many different types of experiences all within reach. Banks Peninsula is a favorite weekend getaway for people from Christchurch, with excellent hiking and biking trails with some gorgeous beaches good for swimming or some of the best surf in the region. Lake Pukaki has beautiful turquoise waters and sits in a privileged area with views of the towering Mount Cook. If you really like roses and didn't get your fill at the Botanic Gardens back in Christchurch, head to Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden with over 1000 different kinds of roses to marvel over. The Avon River goes right through Christchurch and offers opportunities for punting along its tree-lined banks. Heaphy Track is an 82km track going through beech forest to pristine coastline. Some others of note are Corsair Bay, Travis Wetland, and Quail Island.
Hanmer Springs is one of the best alpine spas in New Zealand with thermal pools among gorgeous mountain views. Kaikoura is an interesting eco-tourism spot with whale watching and a bird watching along with hiking being the most popular activities here. Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest peak and the surrounding national park is nothing to scoff at with a dizzying array of hiking paths from short half hour hikes to days long treks. Selwyn is a great town to sample the local wines and produce along with presenting opportunities to see a kiwi. Waimate is located in the southern part of the region with close-up wallaby encounters and historic Edwardian and Victorian architecture making it an attractive stop. Caroline Bay beach is located near Timaru, the second largest town in Canterbury, and offers some good surf spots along with many other recreational activities for enjoying the great outdoors. The Canterbury region is full of charming places like these making it a wonderful place for a weekend, an entire vacation, or a lifetime of great experiences.