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Canterbury, New ZealandCanterbury Scenic Highlights

Canterbury | Regional Information | Activity Highlights | Scenic Highlights | History

From the beautiful Canterbury plains to the awe-inspiring Kaikoura Ranges, Canterbury will have you in awe of its natural diversity and magnificence.

Canterbury Scenic Highlights Overview

In Canterbury, contrasts are everywhere you look—the rugged alps next to smooth, green plains; the wild Pacific alongside the magnificent Kaikoura Ranges; cool, blue lakes framed by golden tussock.

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A fantasy land of ice and rock - Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

The boundaries of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park encircle New Zealand's highest mountains and largest glaciers. The park is part of Te Wahipounamu, the South Westland World Heritage Area, in recognition of its outstanding natural value. From Twizel, a sealed road leads along the edge of beautiful Lake Pukaki right into the park. Mount Cook Village lies at the end of the road, just below the terminals of the Hooker and Mueller Glaciers.

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Aoraki/Mt Cook, Canterbury, New Zealand
Aoraki/Mt Cook, Canterbury
Photographer: Gareth Eyres
(www.exposure.co.nz)

According to Maori legend, Aoraki and his three brothers were the sons of Rakinui, the Sky Father. They were on a voyage around Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, when their canoe was stranded after striking a reef in the ocean. Aoraki and his brothers climbed onto the top their canoe. The cold south wind froze them, and turned them into stone. Their canoe became New Zealand's South Island, which was then called Te Waka o Aoraki. Aoraki, the tallest of the brothers, became the highest peak. His brothers and crew became the other mountains of the Southern Alps.

Not far from the national park is Lake Tekapo, a remarkable turquoise coloured lake framed by the majesty of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo is given its intense milky-turquoise hue by fine rock-flour—dust ground by glacial movement and held in suspension by the lake's waters. Walk to the famous Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps. Look also for the sheepdog monument—a bronze statue sculpted to recognise the district's debt to the sheepdog 'without the help of which the grazing of the mountainous country would be impossible'.

» Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park Information

» Aoraki/Mount Cook Travel Directory

On and Around Beautiful Lyttelton Harbour

Scenic Lyttelton Harbour is located right beside the city of Christchurch. It offers the visitor spectacular scenery, made even more interesting with fascinating Maori and European history. You can experience Lyttelton Harbour by driving the short distance through the Lyttelton Road Tunnel or over the Port Hills. Lyttelton was the port of entry for English settlers coming to the new settlement of Canterbury.

Around the Port Hills you'll find a choice of adventure sports, including mountain biking. There are many walks around the hills and beach areas, as well as safe swimming and picnic areas.

» Lyttelton Harbour Information

» Lyttelton Travel Directory

The Awesome Alpine Scenery of Arthur's Pass

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Above Mueller Glaciers Mt Cook, Canterbury, New Zealand
Above Mueller Glaciers, Mt Cook
Canterbury
Photographer: David Wall
(www.davidWallPhoto.com)

In the heart of the Southern Alps is Arthur's Pass National Park (114,500 hectares), situated on an historic road between Canterbury and the West Coast. High mountains with large scree slopes are a major landscape feature, along with wide braided rivers, steep gorges, and native bush.

Arthur's Pass village lies in the centre of the park, which is 154 kilometres from the city of Christchurch (one and a half hours drive) and 100 kilometres from Greymouth (one hour's drive).

The main road between Greymouth and Christchurch, State Highway 73, goes right through the park and the village of Arthur's Pass. Winding in places, it is one of the country's most scenic routes and includes the newly built, and very spectacular, viaduct.

The TranzAlpine train also stops at Arthur's Pass. There are plenty of accommodation options in and around the area, from hotels to backpackers lodges.

Thirty back country huts and basic shelters (bivouacs) are located within the park, and are linked by an excellent track system.

» Arthur's Pass National Park Information

» Arthurs Pass Travel Directory

Useful Canterbury Links

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Mainstay New Zealand Hotels

Mainstay NZ Hotels

Large collection of independent hotels.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

Holiday packages for any occasion.

Distinction Hotels

Distinction Hotels

Great hotels in great NZ wide locations.