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.
- 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
- Christchurch – the largest city in the South Island
- Akaroa – swimming with dolphins in this town with a French heritage on Banks Peninsula
- Hanmer Springs – hot springs, forest trails for hiking and biking, and other outdoor activities
- Kaikoura – whale watching and other marine activities
- Lake Tekapo
Canterbury was settled in the 1850s by colonists from England. The settlement was planned and developed by the Canterbury Company.
- 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.
State Highway 1 traverses the length of the Canterbury plains.
Public transport, such as buses and trains, between towns is limited to the main routes between major centres.
To explore out-of-the-way places you really need a car.
Bicycling is a practical proposition because the roads are relatively flat.
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.
- North to Marlborough
- South to Otago and Southland, where the popular tourist destinations are:
- West over the Southern Alps to the West Coast, moving on to Nelson in the north or south to the glaciers then back over the Haast Pass to Wanaka, Queenstown and on to Te Anau and Milford Sound, which is where pretty much every tourist to New Zealand eventually goes.