Things to do, Tourism  |  23 Dec 2021

Want a change of scenery but don’t want to venture too far from home?

There are some great destinations just a short hop away from the centre of Christchurch that will give you a holiday vibe without any of the stresses that come with long holiday road trips.


Escape to Akaroa over the holidays.

Only a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, Akaroa is arguably one of Christchurch’s most famous and most popular day trips for locals and visitors alike. A scenic drive that takes you through gems such as Lake Ellesmere, Birdlings Flat and Little River, the journey is just as beautiful as the destination.

Akaroa has something for everyone, whether it’s wandering the quaint French-themed streets, getting your picture taken on Daly’s Wharf or exploring the iconic lighthouse, you won’t run out of things to do.

If you forget your lunch, don’t panic! There is plenty of delicious places to have a bite to eat, or you can always grab yourself some fish and chips and head down to the beach!

Quail Island & the Lyttelton Harbour bays

If you’re wanting something a little closer to home, don’t forget the beautiful Bays that are right on our doorstep. A short drive from Lytellton Harbour lies an assortment of wonderful spots to take your picnic. Take your pick from picturesque Rapaki Bay, famous Governors Bay or find the perfect swimming spot at Le Bons Bay.

For something a bit different, Quail Island, which sits in the middle of Lyttelton Harbour offers visitors the chance to find out more about its colourful history, including being the site of New Zealand’s only leper colony. Only a short ferry ride away from Lytellton, take a walk around Quail Island and discover new swimming beaches, learn about the work restoring native vegetation and keep an eye out for native birds including the fantail, kingfisher, silvereye and many sea birds, including the rare white flippered little blue penguins.

Taylors Mistake

Are you looking to hit the waves this summer? Look no further than local spot Taylors Mistake. A small bay between Sumner and Lyttelton harbour, Taylors Mistake is also home to some unique Canterbury history that involves mystery and maritime drama. If you’re looking for somewhere to get into your togs, take some fish and chips and relax by the seaside, this will be your new favourite spot!

Bottle Lake Forest

If beaches aren’t your thing, you may want to head to Bottle Lake Forest. The 1000 hectares of pine plantation forest is located about 10 km north-east of the city and is a great place for mountain biking or walking as it has mostly flat trails.

The most popular starting point for Bottle Lake Forest is the main car park off Waitakiri Drive, off Burwood Road, via either Marshlands or Burwood. You can also reach the park on foot from Spencer Park and from North Shore along the Southern Pegasus Bay track. 

To check your route, and how to access walk, mountain-bike tracks and horse-riding tracks, check out the map here.

The visitor centre, located at the Waitikiri Drive entrance, has track maps, brochures and displays about the park's history and ecology.

Spencer Park

Located a short 14km north-east of Christchurch, Spencer Park is a great place for a family day trip or weekend stay at the holiday park. There are lots of activities to keep children entertained including a small animal enclosure, a children’s adventure playground, a paddling pool, and many interesting short walks.

The adventure playground is a firm favourite and features a giant 20-metre inflatable pillow that kids can jump around on and a huge inflatable slip-n slide.

You can also check out the local wildlife, with nearby Brooklands Lagoon and the coastal pathway perfect for bird-watching.

Spencer Park is a great place for a family day trip or weekend stay at the holiday park.