North Canterbury, Walks & Parks

  • Craigieburn Forest Park and walking tracks

    Short walks in Craigieburn Forest Park range from a 20 minute nature walk to a 3-4 hour walk to the top of Helicopter Hill. About 110 km from Christchurch on SH 73 towards Arthur’s Pass, is a signposted side-road to the Craigieburn picnic area on the Broken River ski field road. This picnic area provides nice spots to have lunch, explore and paddle in Cave Stream. From here you can walk along the road to the Environmental Education Centre (suitable for buggies and strollers) and the start of the Craigieburn Nature Trail (20 minutes return) a pleasant walk through mountain beech forest.

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    • Location: 110 km from Christchurch on SH 73 towards Arthur’s Pass.
  • Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

    The track crosses the peninsula’s clifftop, with excellent views of the Seaward Kaikoura Range, ocean and coastline, to South Bay. It returns to the township via South Bay and Toms Track. Potential to observe wildlife including seals and sea birds.

    This family friendly walk can be done in parts or if you want to explore the entire walk allow 3 hours.

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    • Location: Kaikoura peninsula
  • Glentui Waterfall and Nature Trail Loop

    From the Glentui picnic area there are a few options. Two great family friendly ones are to visit the Glentui waterfall or follow the Glentui Loop Nature Track. The waterfall track takes 30 minutes and offers an impressive view of the river and the waterfall. The Nature Loop is 1 hour return and it descends down to the Glentui River before intersecting with a couple other trails and then heading back to the picnic area.

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    • Location: Glentui Bush Rd, Glentui 7495
  • Hanmer Forest Park

    Various choices for walks up to an hour in return or a short 5 minute stroll. Many walks will include species of Douglas fir, poplar and redwood trees. Streams, flax wetland and ponds with associated bird and aquatic life are also accessible here. A popular family one is Woodland Walk - 45 minutes round trip, 2.8 km. This loop walk starts and ends at the DOC picnic area on Jollies Pass Road. Jollies Pass Road is on the right as you drive through Hanmer, just before the Heritage Hotel. The well-formed track is suitable for strollers/young children and passes through woodland forest, meadowland and stands of exotic trees including Douglas fir, poplar and redwood. There are many nice grassy areas to picnic on and run around. The ponds are great places to feed the ducks but take care of children around these. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a lead.

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    • Location: 32 River Road
      Rangiora 7400
  • Conical Hill

    This is a popular track in the Hanmer Forest Park. 1 hr return, the 550m summit offers views of the Hanmer Basin.

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    • Location: Conical Hill Walkway, Hanmer Springs 7334
  • Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve

    Peel Forest is located in the foothills of the Southern Alps; turn off SH 72, about 12 km north of Geraldine. Once at the forest, a wide variety of short and long tracks extend into the park but for littlies choose the beginning of the Big Tree Walk, which is suitable for prams and wheelchairs.Explore the largest reserve in the Geraldine area on a variety of tracks. Base yourself at the campsite and take your time.

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    • Location: Peel Forest is accessed from Rangitata Gorge Road and from Blandswood Road.
  • Mt. Thomas Conservation Area

    The Mt. Thomas Conservation area offers a wide variety of trails making this an ideal destination to spend a few hours or an entire day exploring. Options included the Kereru Track which is an hour return to longer missions to the Mt. Thomas Summit - 3 hours one way.

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    • Location: 392 Glentui Bush Rd, Glentui 7495
  • Devils Punchbowl Walking Track - Arthur's Pass

    Feel the full force and sound of fresh mountain water falling 131 m down one of New Zealand’s most stunning waterfalls. It's one of our best short walks. 2 km return via same track- 1 hr return. The track starts at the northern end of Arthur's Pass village, just off SH73 at the Punchbowl car park (signposted off the highway). From the start of the walk, follow the footbridge across the Bealey River. The next bridge, over Devils Punchbowl Creek, has a good view of the waterfall. From here, wander through lush beech forest with friendly fantails/pīwakawaka and tomtits before climbing 150 m up a series of steps to a viewing platform at the base of this spectacular waterfall. Return on the same track.

     

     

     

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    • Location: Northern end of Arthur's Pass village, just off SH73 at the Punchbowl car park
  • Cave Stream Scenic Reserve

    This really is a hidden gem, and an adventure activity with older children that is FREE!  You can opt for either the above ground 30 minutes return for each track, or add the cave walk through water if the conditions are right. The reserve is well signposted off SH 73 between the Broken River road bridge and Craigieburn Forest Park entrance. Two short, but steep tracks lead from the reserve car park to the cave entrances. You will need to help or carry little ones in a child carrier pack. The easier track to the upstream entrance goes through a karst (limestone) landscape of sculptured rock formations. The other track leads to the edge of a terrace and then drops steeply down to the junction of Cave Stream and Broken River. The limestone formations nearby were the settings for the filming of The Chronicles of Narnia. The 600-metre cave walk itself is not suitable for little children, but is a great adventure for older families that are well prepared, with torches, warm gear and plenty of dry clothes to change into. A separate brochure describes the cave adventure. Note: Do not attempt to enter the cave if the stream is high, with the water discoloured or foaming.

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    • Location: Castle Hill 7580, SH73 between the Broken River road bridge and Craigieburn Forest Park entrance.
  • Kura Täwhiti / Castle Hill Conservation Area

     Kura Täwhiti is an ideal place for exploring and picnicking, with many informal trails running around and between the spectacular limestone rock formations. Allow plenty of time to explore. Located beside SH 73, about 80 minutes from Christchurch, the short walk into the reserve ( 10 mins) is across private paddocks.

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  • Chatterton River Track

    2 hr 30 min return. The Chatterton River Track provides something a little different to the other walks in the Hanmer Forest region in that it is less visited, a little remote, and has an seclusion not easily found along the more popular walks. Beginning on Chatterton Road, about 1.2km north of the Alpine Adventure Camp (there is a gate here that is sometimes locked making it necessary to walk this section as well), the track heads down to the stream which it then follows all the way to the valley head. Higher up mature stands of mountain beech will be encountered as well as groves of ferns and some relatively steep sections of track as the route makes its way up the south face of Jacks Pass to the broad summit. At the pass there is a spectacular view here of the Hanmer Range peaks and over into the Clarence Valle.

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    • Location: Chatterton Road, about 1.2km north of the Alpine Adventure Camp
  • Point Kean Seal Colony Walk - Kaikoura

    A 50 min (4.4 km one way) scenic walk to see seals in their natural environment, with a bit of history along the way.  From the town centre, follow the footpath and road verge along The Esplanade, Avoca Street and Fyffe Quay to Point Kean. On the way, look out for the interpretation signs on The Esplanade opposite Brighton and Margate Streets, telling stories of 'Life on the edge', a community living by the sea — the land, the sea and the people. At Avoca Street, the sign takes you back to 1909, when the new wharf was built. Near Fyffe House, a sign details the early European settlement in Kaikoura and, at nearby Armers Beach, the story tells of the importance this site holds for the local community, both past and present, for the shelter it provides. Near Point Kean car park, there are signs warning that seals are likely to be present in the surrounding area. Most of the seals in the car park are males.. The seals on the rocky platforms out from the car park are females and their pups. For your safety and to avoid disturbing the seals, remain 10 m from any seal in the vicinity of the car park. There are toilets at the car park.

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    • Location: 40 Fyffe Quay, Kaikoura 7300
Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Coromandel
  • Dunedin
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • North Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Northland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown
  • Taranaki
  • South Canterbury
  • Taupo
  • Southland
  • Waikato
  • Wanaka
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2

Auckland

New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!

Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.

Christchurch

With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.

Queenstown

With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.

Rotorua

Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!

Northland

Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.