North Canterbury, South Island

including Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura

HERO North Canterbury

Kaikoura whale watching, North Canterbury

HERO North Canterbury 2

North Canterbury family holiday, Kaikoura

HERO North Canterbury 3

Dolphin watching and swimming with dolphins, Kaikoura

HERO North Canterbury 4

Kaikoura and coastline, North Canterbury

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs hot pools, North Canterbury

Welcome to North Canterbury

The Alpine Pacific Triangle

Walks and Parks

Walks & Parks

Get Outdoors!

Discover the region's walks, parks, beaches, lakes or rivers.

You may hear the region you’re visiting referred to as the Alpine Pacific Triangle – this route starts just north of Christchurch and takes in the inland resort town of Hanmer Springs, and the coastal town of Kaikoura, plus the roads and townships between these locations.

Hanmer Springs

An alpine township famous for its natural, thermal pools, and only 90 minutes drive from Christchurch. The region is a popular family getaway – you’ll find heaps of fun activities, with the icing on the being a visit to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa.  There are hot natural pools to relax in, a full size swimming pool or the Family Activity Area, with waterfalls and animal slides.  But Hanmer isn’t just about the hot pools….it’s a laid-back village tucked away amongst forests, rivers and mountains.  There’s plenty of accommodation, from campsites and holiday parks, to motels, hotels or luxury apartments.  Activities include jetboating, horseriding, bungy jump, family biking, paintball, farm visits or forest walks and picnics.

Getting there from Christchurch
Hanmer Springs is 135km (or 84 miles) from Christchurch. 
Take State Highway 1 north from Christchurch and follow the main highway as far as the Highway 7 and Lewis Pass turn off, just before Waipara.  Look out for the signs for Hanmer on your right, taking you for a short drive on Highway 7a, ending in the scenic resort of Hanmer Springs.


The seaside settlement of Kaikoura is situated on the South Island’s rugged east coast, half way between Christchurch and Picton.  Famous for its sea life, Kaikoura is the place to view the world’s most acrobatic dolphins, the resident sperm whales (equivalent in size to four elephants!) and giant albatross.  The town boasts the stunning, snow-capped backdrop of the Kaikoura Ranges.  Activities include whale and dolphin watching, swimming with dolphins or seals, kayaking, quad bike rides, horse riding and farm visits.  The town itself is big enough to offer a range of accommodation, great cafes and restaurants and delectable crayfish or fish and chips, but small enough to relax in the peace of a typical South Island town.

Getting there from Christchurch
Kaikoura  is 184km (or 115 miles) from Christchurch.  Take State Highway 1 north from Christchurch – as you get nearer to Kaikoura you’ll see the rugged coastline on your right, and will follow this all the way to Kaikoura.  Look out for the distinctive mountain range – the Kaikouras – they’re usually snow capped and provide an unforgettable backdrop to this seaside town.

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Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Manawatu
  • Northland
  • North Canterbury
  • Queenstown
  • South Canterbury
  • Taranaki
  • Southland
  • Taupo
  • Wanaka
  • Waikato
  • Wellington
  • 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…


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 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.


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.


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 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!


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.