Canterbury Main Towns & Cities


Akaroa was established by a French whaler, Captain Jean Langlois, in 1838. It is New Zealand's only French settlement, and its heritage is obvious from the architecture and French street names.

  • Akaroa has its own swimming beach, and there are other beautiful beaches within thirty minutes of the town.
  • A harbour cruise to view Hectors dolphins, blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and cormorants.

Ashburton features stately trees, elegant gardens, numerous museums and superb fishing rivers. You'll find an excellent choice of accommodation and restaurants.

  • Ashburton has a total of six museums, including vintage railway, aviation and car museums.
  • Local craft galleries are definitely worth a look.

The first four ships arrived from England to settle Christchurch in 1850. In less than 160 years they and their progeny built central Christchurch from scratch, into an attractive and contemporary urban city.

  • Visit the Ko Tane Living Maori Village and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve where Maori culture and conservation meet.
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Hanmer Springs

Since 1859, the naturally heated waters of Hanmer Springs have attracted visitors seeking to relax and ease their aches and pains.The town is an attractive year-round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities, restaurants and accommodation.

  • Hike or mountain bike along the many forest trails.
  • Enjoy the hot pools at the thermal reserve. There's every temperature from lukewarm to piping hot, plus water slides for the children.

Majestic mountains, snow-capped for several months of the year, overlook this charming seaside settlement. Blessed with magnificent sperm whales, dolphins, fur seals and royal albatross, Kaikoura has become a magnet for tourists.

  • There are many things to do in Kaikoura besides whale-watching including horse trekking, Maori culture tours, skiing Mount Lyford, bird watching and cave tours.
  • Kaikoura also holds an annual Sea-fest which is becoming known as one of the premier festivals in New Zealand.

Canterbury's second largest city is surrounded by hills that slope gently down to beautiful Caroline Bay. The name Timaru means The Place of Shelter in Maori, as it was one of the few havens for sea-going canoes on this coast.

  • A vibrant social scene is provided by the restaurants and cafés that link the beach to the main shopping area.
  • Caroline Bay is Timaru's main attraction. It has a safe swimming beach, a maze, mini-golf, a landscaped piazza and walks.
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