Christchurch & Canterbury
Canterbury has a massive reputation as an awesome place to base yourself for a ski or snowboard holiday.
Not only does the region offer easy access to several great ski areas, featuring everything from resorts of international quality to club fields and off-piste heli skiing action, but the snow here is superb in quality and quantity – Mount Hutt is often the earliest opening ski area in New Zealand.
Beyond the city, Canterbury is home to a diverse selection of towns and villages. Rent a car and hit the road to really explore the region's essence. Methven, at the base of Mount Hutt, is the centre of off-piste action during winter. The village's cafés, bars and restaurants are packed with snow-seeking visitors during the ski season and there's often live music to catch over the winter months.
Many of Christchurch's famous buildings were damaged in the earthquake of 22 February 2011 but the city remains the gateway to the South Island.
The biggest centre in the South Island, Christchurch is a coastal city smack-bang in the middle of a massive landscape of wide-open plains, rolling hills and beaches, all against a backdrop of the Southern Alps mountain range. The mountains are only an hour away, and with flights arriving daily from all over New Zealand, as well as a number of international destinations, it's a great starting point for a winter holiday – whether you base yourself in the city and ski Canterbury or stay just a couple of days before travelling on to Mackenzie or the Southern Lakes.
Time Out in 'The New Christchurch'
On 22 February 2011, Christchurch was struck by a major earthquake. Damage was severe, but localised, so it's life as usual in many parts of the city. The shopping district of Riccarton and the bars of Merivale are busy and other activities are operating as usual. With 1,900 motel rooms and the airport fully functioning, Christchurch is still the gateway to the South Island.
Great food and a beer are easy to find in Christchurch. Tutto Bene Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria [192 Papanui Road, Merivale t: +64 3 355 4744] is a favourite spot with its Italian cuisine and authentic ambience. Other places for relaxed, low-key dining include Burgers & Beers Inc [355 – 357 Colombo Street t: +64 3 366 3339] and Winnie Bagoes [2 Waterman Place, Ferrymead t: +64 3 376 4900]. Grab a drink in new it-district SOMO at Cargo Bar, Dux Live or The Pedal Pusher [Lincoln Road, Addington]. In Riccarton, look for Fox & Ferret [28 Rotherham Street] or No. 4 Bar & Restaurant [4 Mansfield Avenue] in Merivale.
Hanmer Springs & Hurunui
Hanmer Springs is a picturesque mountain village sheltered by pine-covered hills. It is popular for its steaming hot pools, plus adventure activities from hiking and mountain biking to bungy and jet boating.
Popular local restaurants include Jollie Jacks [12A Conical Hill Road t: +64 3 315 7388], Monteith's Brewery Bar [47 Amuri Avenue t: +64 3 315 5133] and The Laurels Restaurant [31 Amuri Avenue t: +64 3 315 7788].
A 30-minute drive from Christchurch, Darfield is a great base for a snow holiday. It is also well placed for activities such as jet boating. A little further on, Springfield is at the foot of the Southern Alps and beyond is the alpine village of Arthur's Pass.
Refuel yourself at Original Sheffield Pie Shop [51 The Great Alpine Highway, Sheffield] or The Wobbly Kea Café & Bar [108 Main Road, Arthur's Pass].
Methven & Mount Hutt
Methven (Mount Hutt Village) is popular year-round, but in winter it really comes alive! Gateway to Mount Hutt, it's also a base for heli skiing. When you're not on the slopes, there are other activities to try, from skydiving to jet boating.
Cosy dining options in Methven include Mt Hutt Restaurant & Bar [Ski Time, Restaurant Racecourse Avenue t: +64 3 302 8398 www.skitime.co.nz], The Blue Pub [Barkers Road t: +64 3 302 8046 www.thebluepub.co.nz], The Brown Pub [Main Street t: +64 3 302 8045 www.thebrownpub.co.nz] and The Last Post Café, Bar & Restaurant [116 Main Street t: +64 3 302 8259 www.thelastpostrestaurant.co.nz].
Need to Know
Where's the Snow?
Hanmer Springs Ski Area, Mt Lyford Alpine Resort, Temple Basin, Mt Olympus, Mt Cheeseman, Broken River, Craigieburn Valley Ski Area, Porters, Mt Hutt.
Population Christchurch 367,700. Average July temperature 6.6˚C. Main centres Christchurch, Hanmer Springs, Darfield, Springfield, Methven.
Air Christchurch International Airport, 20 min from the CBD, offers domestic and international flights. Rail KiwiRail links Christchurch with Picton in Marlborough and Greymouth on the West Coast. Road Christchurch is 4 hours, 50 min from Picton and 5 hours, 10 min from Dunedin. Coaches offer regular services.
There are heaps of car rental companies in Christchurch. The city is served with public transport, phone +64 3 366 8855 or see www.metroinfo.org.nz. There are shuttles to nearby ski areas. Mt Hutt Express (0800 808 070) and Mt Hutt Snowbus (0800 766 928, www.mthuttsnowbus.com) provide transport to and from Christchurch.
(Towns) From Christchurch to: Hanmer Springs 1 hour, 55 min; Darfield 30 min; Springfield 1 hour; Methven 1 hour, 45 min. (Ski areas) From Christchurch to: Hanmer Springs Ski Area 2 hours; Mt Lyford Alpine Resort 1 hour, 40 min; Temple Basin 2 hours; Mt Olympus 2 hours; Mt Cheeseman 1 hour, 30 min; Broken River 1 hour, 30 min; Craigieburn Valley Ski Area 1 hour, 30 min; Porters 1 hour, 15 min; Mt Hutt 1 hour, 30 min.
Find Out More
Online www.destination-nz.com, www.christchurchnz.com, www.visithurunui.co.nz, www.amazingspace.co.nz, www.skiselwynsix.co.nz. By phone Christchurch +64 3 353 7774, Hanmer Springs +64 3 315 0020, Methven +64 3 302 8955. In person Christchurch Airport i-SITE Visitor Centre Domestic Terminal; Hurunui i-SITE Visitor Centre 42 Amuri Avenue West, Hanmer Springs; Methven i-SITE Visitor Centre 121 Main Street; Springfield Visitor Information King Street (Springfield Railway Station).
- Explore the suburbs of Christchurch for coffee, restaurants and shopping.
- Experience an adrenaline-pumping jet boat adventure at the Rakaia Gorge near Methven.
- Enjoy a round of golf at Terrace Downs, one of the country's most spectacular courses.
- Go whale watching in Kaikoura.
- Pop over the hills to explore French-flavoured Akaroa.
- Sample galleries and gourmet delicacies in Geraldine Town.
- TranzAlpine train journey
- Ice skating at Alpine Ice Canterbury
- Take a break from skiing at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
- International Antarctic Centre
- Hanmer Springs hot pools
- Winter wonderland walk in Arthur's Pass National Park
- Night-skiing at Temple Basin
- Try Canterbury heli skiing
- Be part of the action in the Peak to Pub
The Olympians Freeski Sessions w/ Tom Dunbar [Mt Olympus] 9 –14 Jul 2012
Dynastar CHILL Gromfest, Freeride/Freestyle [Porters] 21 – 22 Jul 2012
Skier & Boarder X [Mt Cheeseman] 22 Jul 2012
Live Music @ The Blue Pub - Jordan Luck Band [Methven] 27 Jul 2012
New Zealand IceFest [Christchurch] 14 Sep – 14 Oct 2012 http://nzicefest.co.nz
Columbia Peak to Pub [Mt Hutt] 6 Oct 2012 www.peaktopub.co.nz