Continuing with my suggestions for day trips from Christchurch, here are a few interesting ideas for spending some time away from the routes of the big tour busses – whether you have your own means of transport or not.
Formed by two volcanic eruptions, Banks Peninsula is almost round in shape, and sits just a stone’s throw away from Christchurch. You’ll find plenty of beautiful scenery and things to do on Banks Peninsula. It boosts deep harbours, many an isolated bay, and the only French settlement in New Zealand: Akaroa.
It all starts with a 90-minute scenic drive from Christchurch that leads through green hills to picturesque little bays and seaside villages. On the way there, make sure you check out the fruit store on SH 75 midway between Christchurch and Akaroa and stock up on excellent value for money seasonal fruit.
Further on, the route leads through the settlement of Little River, which boasts an amazing art gallery that should not be missed. In Akaroa, the visitor is spoilt for choice: boutique shops, fantastic fish and chip diners, cafes and ice cream parlours, and plenty of beautiful natural scenery to take in. Heaps of activities on land or water will keep you busy, from harbour wildlife and nature cruises to Hector dolphin watching or walking the Banks Peninsula Track, taking hikers through native bush to fantastic sandy beaches.
An alternative way of getting to Banks Peninsula is by taking public transport, either a bus from Christchurch’s Cathedral Square or a bus to Lyttelton, where you just hop on a Black Cat Ferry and enjoy a scenic 10-minute ride over to Diamond Harbour. The latter received its name due to the sunlight reflecting on the water, making it resemble a sea of diamonds. Diamond Harbour is also well worth a day trip from Christchurch. It is a beautiful little place to stroll around in. For the arts enthusiast, there is Stoddart Cottage, the birthplace of Margaret Stoddart, a prominent New Zealand artist. The colonial cottage dates back to 1862 and regularly hosts arts and crafts exhibitions. And if you have your own means of transport, venture just a few kilometres further to Purau for pure tranquility. The tiny settlement is located at a stunning bay and has no shops and no distractions other than kayaking, pretty little sailboats, a campground and a great little beach that is suitable for swimming. Oh, and the most amazing evening sky.