The information below is a typical page from one of our itineraries. You can see it contains details of the route, distance, things to see on the way and background information on each area. You’ll also receive map links with your itinerary with the route clearly marked so that it is easy to follow as you travel…
Christchurch is the largest city on the south island and the third largest in the whole of New Zealand. Situated just north of the Banks Peninsula on the southern edge of Pegasus Bay, Christchurch has been nicknamed the ‘Garden City’ because of the large number of public parks. As most of the city is only a few metres above sea level at best, spectacular views can be had from any tall building or slight rise in the city. Cathedral Square is the centre for everything that goes on in Christchurch and is the place to see the town’s namesake the ‘Christ Church’.
popular destination playing host to any number of unusual spectacles, including a speakers corner made famous by local eccentric ‘The Wizard’. With a mixture of neo-gothic architecture, wooden villas, shopping, galleries, cafes, restaurants and the stately form of the Avon River wending its way through the city centre, Christchurch has plenty to offer even the most demanding of visitors.
Christchurch’s port of Lyttleton had a significant role in the exploration of the Antarctic, being the final departure point for both Robert Scott and Ernest Shakleton’s expeditions. The International Antarctic Centre provides a feel for what such an endeavour must have been like. An easy city to explore with most points of interest being within walking distance of the centre, the flat terrain also lends itself well to exploring via bicycle. Or if that sounds too energetic you can see the sights from the comfort of one the city’s many historic trams.
The Avon River – Christchurch’s iconic waterway winds it’s way round the centre of the city and through the extensive botanic gardens. A pleasant stroll along the wooded banks or even some punting on the river can all be enjoyed.
Cathedral Square– The central location and iconic church make Cathedral Square hard to miss. Grab a coffee, watch the world go by or enjoy a giant game of chess
Botanic Gardens– Thirty hectares of riverside landscape, a short walk from the heart of the city. A huge range of plants and an acclaimed rose garden all await.
International Antarctic Centre– Judged one of New Zealand’s best attractions the Antarctic centre is a must see. Fascinating exhibits, experience what a snowstorm feels like and much more. Being located just across from the Christchurch International Airport, this could be one to save for the end of your trip.
Arts Centre of Christchurch– The historic buildings of the original Canterbury University College are the base for this interesting collection of speciality shops, galleries, craft workshops, theatres and restaurants. An arts market is held each weekend and is a must see for the vibrant atmosphere.
Lake Tekapo is the largest of three parallel lakes running north to south along the upper edge of the Mackenzie Basin. The lake is fed at its northern end by the Godley River and situated on the shores of the lake is the Church of the Good Shepherd; built in 1935 it was the first church in the county. It is also possibly one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand. The landscape is truly impressive and the air is so clear that it is one of the best locations in the world to view the night sky.
Mount John Observatory – Get a taste of the breathtaking night sky at the observatory atop Mount John, the mountain overlooking Lake Tekapo.
Aerial tours– Lake Tekapo makes a suitable base for viewing Mount Cook from the air. Helicopter or fixedwing plane, the choice is yours. You can even take a short trip over the Southern Alps and take a look at the magnificent glaciers in the area.
Twizel draws many astronomers as it boasts one of the world’s cleanest, driest and darkest skies. It is central to all the attractions of the Aoraki / Mt Cook Mackenzie region, with the Southern Alps as the backdrop and its position close to five picturesque lakes, including a world-standard rowing course and Formula One class boating area at Lake Ruataniwha.
If fishing is your love and catching salmon, brown or 17kg (37.4lb) rainbow trout is what you dream of then don’t miss your chance in any of Twizel’s rivers, lakes or canals. Twizel’s terrain is ideal for skydiving, rock and mountain climbing. There’s golf, skiing or snowboarding in winter and plenty of cafes to relax in after a busy day.
The town is now a centre for tourism in the Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie District. It has a rich but brief history linked to the development of the massive Waitaki Valley hydroelectric scheme. A display with information on this is a worth seeing at the Twizel Events Centre and at the Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre.
The alpine village of Mount Cook located in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, provides a good range of accommodation from an international style hotel to motels, backpackers and camping. At 3754 metres and claiming the crown as New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook is a dazzling World Heritage area. But there are plenty of other peaks vying for your attention; 27 other mountains in fact in this alpine spine which all tower to over 3050 metres, with hundreds of others not far short of that. They all combine to form the famous Southern Alps.
You can enjoy 4WD safaris, boating on the glacier lakes, horse treks, fishing, scenic flights with snow landings and numerous walks and hikes. During the winter guided ski experiences onto New Zealand’s longest glacier, the Tasman, is a popular activity and a unique Mount Cook wedding location!
Just after the small township of Twizel is the turn off to Mount Cook (Aoraki). The route runs up the western shore of Lake Pukaki and provides an impressive view of New Zealand’s highest peak. This road is a dead-end, so if you wish to visit the mountain itself you will have to follow the same route back