South Canterbury, South Island

including Mt Cook, Methven, Oamaru and Timaru

Lake Pukaki, South Canterbury family holidays

Salmon farms, South Canterbury family holidays

Lake Pukaki, South Island

Tasman Lake and iceburgs, Mt Cook

Church of the Good Shepherd and Lake Tekapo, South Canterbury

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Welcome to Mt Cook and South Canterbury

Follow the main road south from Christchurch and the first towns you’ll pass through are Ashburton and Timaru.  Head west and you’ll find the unique inland farming towns of Geraldine and Fairlie as the landscape in front of you becomes more engaging and the peaks of the Southern Alps get closer.  The jewel in the Southern Alps crown is, of course, NZ’s tallest peak – the 3754m/12315ft Mount Cook.  Look out for for your first glimpse from the shores of the turquoise Lake Pukaki.  The towns and countryside, from beach to mountains, make up the region known as Aoraki District.  Aoraki is a Maori word for Mount Cook, meaning ‘cloud piercer’.

Geraldine

You can visit local galleries or follow Geraldine’s arts trail to view potters, leadlighters, woodturners, painters, sculptors, the medieval mosaic and our famous glass blower.  Popular museums include the Vintage Car and Machinery Museum. If you’re into the outdoors, Geraldine is home to rafting (grade 5 - experience recommended), off road tours, horse riding, quad biking and beautiful bush walks, biking and picnic spots.  What’s more, it’s just an hour’s drive from no less than eight local ski areas!   Pleasant Point  Just 20 minutes drive from Geraldine or Temuka, this is a small, friendly township.  Highlight is the town’s museum and fully restored and functioning steam locomotive as well as the world’s only Ford Model T railcar.  Look out for Pleasant Point family events, such as ‘Friends of Thomas’ or visit anytime and take a ride on the steam train or railcar.

Timaru

A vibrant town with an Edwardian heart, a mountain backdrop and sweeping beaches.  The beachfront has a traditional flavour with promenades, playground and picnic areas, making it an ideal family stop-off.  Other activities include dolphin watching cruise, climbing, biking, the South Canterbury Museum with its famous Maori rock art, mini golf and maze.

Lake Tekapo 

Lake Tekapo lies in the heart of Mackenzie country, on the Queenstown-Christchurch route.  It's on the shore of a breathtakingly beautiful, turqoise lake, just an hour from Mount Cook village, close to ski areas and host to salmon farms, hot pools, ice skating, bike tracks, observatory and lively restaurants.

Aoraki Mount Cook

A 55km (45 minutes) detour off the main highway will bring you to the tiny Mount Cook village – end of the road and at the foothills of Mount Cook, Tasman and Sefton. A highlight is the view of the awe-inspiring, 3754m/12315ft Mount Cook, from the shores of Lake Pukaki as you drive in. There’s accommodation in Mount Cook village, or at Glentanner nearby and plenty of outdoor activity.  There are walks galore – from Mount Cook village you can walk just 20 minutes to the Tasman Glacier, or to the shores of its terminal lake, complete with resident icebergs! 

You can even take a boat tour to get up close to the icebergs.  Other activities are also based around taking in the unique landscape – fly and land on a glacier, or take a 4WD tour and let a local show you the sights.  Horse trekking and kayaking are also available.  The Hermitage Hotel is home to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.  A tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the world's greatest explorers, the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region.  The Centre's 126-seat custom-designed theatre is the world's only theatre with 2D, 3D and a Digital Dome Planetarium, contained within the same space.  In the foyer you'll find our museum showcasing the history of the Mount Cook region through transport, climbing, The Hermitage Hotel and pioneer extraordinaire, Sir Edmund Hillary himself.

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