Canterbury, New Zealand
Day Trips

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Our most recommended Canterbury, New Zealand Day Trips

Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

1. Akaroa Harbour 2-Hour Nature Cruise

Experience an award-winning nature cruise of Akaroa Habor. Discover wildlife like dolphins, seals, penguins, and other seabirds. Gaze upon giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.  Travel on a modern catamaran, which is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of Akaroa Harbour. There's lots of room on the two decks for unimpeded viewing and plenty of covered seating for shade and shelter. Inside, for your convenience you'll find a bar and washrooms. Each cruise is fully narrated by your skipper who has extensive knowledge of the nature, wildlife and the history of the harbour. As Akaroa Harbour was a live volcano millions of years ago, there are many spectacular ancient lava flows to be seen. One cliff has a sheer 500-foot face and a fascinating history, while Nikau Palm Gully is the southernmost limit for these tropical palm trees. There is also the incredible Scenery Nook, an amazing pink, purple and red volcanic amphitheater that will take your breath away.

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Christchurch Gondola and Tram City Tour Combo

2. 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 Time Tunnel 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 17 stops, where you can hop on and off as often as you wish. Visit the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Junction, Canterbury Museum, and much more.  

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Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

3. 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. On your return journey, visit the Alpine Lavender Farm and capture some beautiful moments in the pristine environment.

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Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

4. Akaroa: Swimming with Wild Dolphins 3-Hour Experience

Swim with the endangered Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. On New Zealand’s ultimate dolphin experience, you’ll have the chance to see and swim with Hector's dolphins close up, in the wild.  Check-in at Akaroa’s main wharf and meet the friendly crew who will provide you with a warm wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, gloves, and a hood if necessary. Climb aboard the jet-powered catamaran and cruise out into the sheltered harbor. The highly trained crew will give you a safety briefing and explain how to interact responsibly with the dolphins.  With only 12 swimmers permitted per vessel, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing the dolphins up close. Gear up and slip into the tranquil harbor waters to join the dolphins their natural habitat. The covered vessel has no propellers, making it safer for you and the dolphins. Warm up in the heated cabin or take a hot shower afterwards. Hector's dolphins are protected in Akaroa Harbor by a marine mammal sanctuary. The tour operator was the first cruise boat company in the world to gain the coveted Green Globe 21, an international program to ensure best environmental practices. A portion of every ticket sale goes towards the research and conservation of Hector's dolphins.

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Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Flight

5. Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Flight

Receive an informative briefing of the Sperm Whales and other wildlife of Kaikoura, ready for your 30-minute flight experience. Learn about its unique geology, and what you can expect to see during the flight. Spend a special half hour viewing these majestic creatures from a unique vantage point.  Head directly out over the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary to start looking for Kaikoura's wildlife. This whale watching flight showcases the year-round whales and dolphins, as well as the stunning coastline and peninsula. Focusing on the mighty Sperm Whale, this is a once-in-a-lifetime flight to view these animals, as well as other whale and dolphin species that migrate through Kaikoura's waters.  All aircraft are high-winged, which allows each person their own window seat and optimal, unobstructed viewing and photography opportunities. Your tour finishes back at the terminal where there is a gift shop and refreshments available.

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Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

6. Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

Fly in a skiplane and a helicopter on the same day for an unforgettable experience of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Enjoy a scenic adventure that includes a glacier snow landing. From take-off to landing, you will enjoy spectacular views! Fly up the Tasman Valley over the breathtaking blue glacier lake. See the Hochstetter Icefall and the cloud-piercing Aoraki/Mount Cook before landing on the upper snowfields of the Tasman Glacier.  Take time to enjoy this unique alpine environment before swapping aircraft and returning to Mount Cook Airport.  These mountains are covered in snow and ice all year round, and the aircraft fully shuts down on landing. You'll also see Tasman Terminal Lake, Grand Plateau, Plateau Hut, as well as the full length of the Tasman Glacier.

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Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure Tour

7. Hanmer Springs Jet Boat Adventure Tour

Marvel at the Alpine landscapes of Hanmer Springs, and experience the adrenaline thrills of a jet boat adventure. Located approximately 90 minutes from Christchurch, the mountain town is a Mecca for fans of adventure activities, such as quad bikes, bungy jumps, white water rafting, and much more. Make your way to the jet boat base for a safety briefing. Then, travel the narrow gorges, braided shallows, and white water rapids by jet boat. Your time on the water will last at least 30 minutes, but allow one hour for the whole experience (including thorough safety briefing). Soak up the spectacular scenery as you travel the entire length of Waiau Gorge. Hold on tight as you experience the famous Hamilton jet spin!

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Hanmer Springs 2-Hour Quad Bike Safari

8. Hanmer Springs 2-Hour Quad Bike Safari

Discover the beautiful mountains and forests of Hanmer Springs on an exciting 2-hour Quad Bike safari. Make your own way to the Quad Bike base, located on the main road into Hanmer Springs and overlooking the river and Waiau Ferry Bridge. Upon arrival, take control of a 4WD Quad Bike, and cross the challenging terrain and river crossings. Drive along roads of mud, dust, and dirt. Located approximately 90 minutes from Christchurch, the mountain town is a Mecca for fans of adventure activities, such as bungy jumps, white water rafting, and much more. Your Quad Bike guide will take you to some of the back country roads of the area, passing farms, sheep trails, sand, and bush. Choose to ride your own bike, or ride tandem with another person (subject to age restrictions). Enjoy the freedom of the challenging trails (within the safety boundaries) as you soak up the beautiful mountain environment.

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Mount Cook: 3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier

9. Mount Cook: 3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier

Enjoy a once in a lifetime heli hiking experience on the Tasman Glacier in the Aoraki (Mount Cook) National Park. Begin your adventure with a flight from Mount Cook airport over the gorgeous Tasman Glacier Lake and ice formations. Venture on to the surprisingly undulating ice terrain, in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, Aoraki, and Mount Tasman. Be equipped with glacier boots and crampons and spend 2 hours in another world in the mountains. On the return flight home, you will fly close to the massive 1,000-meter high Hochstetter Icefall on the eastern face of Aoraki. Take in the picturesque landscapes that are covered in beautiful white snow and ice year round. 

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Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

10. Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

Take in three of New Zealand’s most impressive glaciers during a helicopter ride. Land on the elevated landing site to take photos of the spectacular views. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to listen to your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley to see the big three from above. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are ice rivers that plug New Zealand's longest glacier: the Tasman Glacier. Take in their ice pinnacles and crevasses while flying amongst some of New Zealand’s biggest mountains. Admire Mount Cook in the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated landing site to enjoy stunning views of Westland Tai Poutini National Park for 15 minutes. You will have plenty of time to take photos before returning to the hangar.

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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

4.5 / 5

based on 92 reviews

Booking office staff very friendly, informative, great handout activity book for the young children in the group. Great boat trip around the harbour and out to sea, enjoyed the captains commentary on the local history, scenic sights and wildlife.

Really enjoyable had 3 teenagers on board with us who also thoroughly enjoyed it. Although we were lucky and saw lots of dolphins which is of course outside of anyone's control. Lots of other things of interest on cruise as well.

Anujk is extremely knowledgeable local guide who knows Aotearoa North to South, and east to west. You will enjoy his tours and information and also great hospitality and world class customer service.

The skipper of the boat explained a lot of history along the way. We really liked that, they say you learn something new every day.

Anuj was such a wonderful guide, providing insights en route and a never drove rashly. Thanks for making trip so memorable!