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Canterbury is a region on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The Canterbury Plains stretch from the Conway River in the north, just south of Kaikoura, to the great Waitaki River in the south, just north of Oamaru. The flat plains stretch from the Pacific Ocean in the east to the Southern Alps in the west, broken only by the volcanic Banks Peninsula.


Map of Canterbury (New Zealand)

  Greater Christchurch
The area around Christchurch, including the booming towns of the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts and the scenic Banks Peninsula
  Mid and South Canterbury
The flat Canterbury Plains rising to the Southern Alps and Arthur's Pass
  Mackenzie Country
Glacial lakes at the feet of the Southern Alps
  North Canterbury
Whale watching in Kaikoura and hot springs in Hanmer


  • 1 Christchurch – the largest city in the South Island
  • 2 Akaroa – swimming with dolphins in this town with a French heritage on Banks Peninsula
  • 3 Hanmer Springs – hot springs, forest trails for hiking and biking, and other outdoor activities
  • 4 Kaikoura – whale watching and other marine activities
  • 5 Lake Tekapo
  • 6 Methven
  • 7 Springfield
  • 8 Timaru

Other destinations[edit]


Canterbury was settled in the 1850s by colonists from England. The settlement was planned and developed by the Canterbury Company.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Christchurch International Airport is the main airport serving Christchurch, Canterbury and the wider South Island. Regular flights link the airport with multiple cities across New Zealand, as well as Australia, the Pacific Islands and Asia.
  • Timaru Richard Pearse Airport is located 12 km (7.5 mi) north of Timaru. It is served daily by Air New Zealand Link flights from Wellington.

By car[edit]

State Highway 1 traverses the length of the Canterbury plains.

Get around[edit]

Rental camper van parked in Akaroa

By public transportation[edit]

Public transport, such as buses and trains, between towns is limited to the main routes between major centres.

By car[edit]

To explore out-of-the-way places you really need a car.

By bike[edit]

Bicycling is a practical proposition because the roads are relatively flat.


Canterbury was named one of the hottest destinations to see in 2021 by online travel platform, Vacaay.



With much of the plains dedicated to farming, roadside stalls selling local produce can be seen in some places. However, similar quality produce is often available at similar prices in city supermarkets, so don't go out of your way and expect to get a bargain at the farm gate. More likely, you will find the unusual and rare produce at the farm gate, where it is grown in quantities too small to sell to a mass market.


A few wine-making specialists exploit the unique climates and produce of their particular properties.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Canterbury is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!