Christchurch Winter Activities 2020

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

Read about 'Christchurch Winter Activities 2020' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

Christchurch acts as a gateway to the whole Canterbury region and is a great place to start your South Island journey. Its central location means whether heading north towards Nelson, south towards Dunedin or across country towards Greymouth or Queenstown, the trip is easily achieved within a day.

The winter season is the perfect time to visit this wonderful region as the mountains are covered in snow and the days are clear and crisp. Whether heading out to try your hand at spotting a few whales, dolphins or seals, skiing or snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, rafting or surfing Christchurch has it all.

The 7 Best Winter Activities In Christchurch

With so much to see and do in and around Christchurch it can be difficult to decide what to do first, here are our pick of activities and places to visit from Christchurch during winter months.

1. Stay Cool At The International Antarctic Centre

The International Antarctic Centre located close to Christchurch Airport is packed full of informative and interactive displays that provide a revealing glimpse into life in Antarctica.

Face the full force of an Antarctic Storm, watch the cute Little Blue Penguins feed and play, experience the awesome 4D Movie Theatre or take an exhilarating ride on a Hagglund all-terrain vehicle; there is something for all ages and abilities.

2. Fall In Love With Tekapo Springs

Enjoy a 3 hour scenic drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo set deep in the beautiful Mackenzie Country and visit Tekapo Springs for the best in outdoor ice skating, curling, hot pools, snow tubing, star gazing and tobogganing, or relax and unwind at their Tekapo Springs Glacial Spa.

Hot pool temperatures range from 28°C to 40°C and are open from 10 am to 9 pm daily. Some of the park’s activities are weather and season dependent.

Lake Tekapo

3. Visit Orana Wildlife Park

Just a 25 minute drive from central Christchurch is New Zealand’s largest wildlife park. Orana Wildlife Park covers approximately 80 hectares and gives visitors the opportunity to get up close to the animals with a range of different ‘encounters’ on offer.

Hand feed the giraffes, lemurs or farm animals, watch on as the lions and tigers are fed, or see New Zealand’s only gorillas – there are over 400 animals to view including many New Zealand native species such as kiwis, keas and tuataras.

Orana Wildlife Park Sign

4. Take The TranzAlpine Train

Whether you board the train at Greymouth or Christchurch or somewhere in between the scenic TranzAlpine train journey is a must do when visiting New Zealand’s South Island. From the comfort of the heated carriages travelers pass through the majestic Southern Alps and Arthurs Pass National Park, along with crossing the Canterbury plains and making their way through some rugged West Coast bushland.

Winter is simply the best time to make this trip as the mountains are dusted in snow which makes for some very beautiful photo ops, especially from the open air viewing carriage.

5. Relax At Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools And Spa

These award-winning Thermal Pools are situated in the alpine village of Hanmer Springs, just 90 minutes’ drive north from Christchurch.

The soothing mineral-rich pools range in temperature from 33 – 42°C and on cold winter days the steam rising off the naturally heated water creates a magical atmosphere – the perfect way to relax and unwind after a long drive.

Hanmer Springs Hot Pools

6. Hit The Slopes

If skiing or snowboarding is your thing, Canterbury’s ski fields are arguably New Zealand’s best skiing areas and are easily accessible from Christchurch with over ten ski areas within 3 hours drive. The closest ski field is Mount Hutt at approximately an hour’s drive (this is also Canterbury’s largest), with Lake Tekapo’s Roundhill ski field stretching the three hour mark, but still well worth the trip especially for families and beginners.

Before deciding where to ski or snowboard or for more information on New Zealand Ski Fields always check out the latest snow reports. Find out more here about ski fields near Christchurch or learn more on Safe Driving in New Zealand.

7. Explore Banks Peninsula

Just east of Christchurch lays the beautiful Banks Peninsula. Home to a selection of picturesque little bays and inlets, walking tracks and reserves, the peninsula gives the intrepid traveller the freedom to explore on their own terms.

Devote an entire holiday to sampling it all or narrow it down to one or two favourite spots for the best day trip. Don’t miss a visit to Akaroa, a former French settlement. The little town gives off a quirky home-away-from-home feel with fun little cafes and lovely accommodation options, or take a boat trip to see if you can spot one of the rarest and smallest dolphins.

Top 3 Christchurch And Canterbury Winter Events

Christchurch is the gateway to a variety of exciting and entertaining winter events. Whether you’re interested in winter sports or family-friendly festivals, Christchurch and the Canterbury region offer a selection of events to keep your spirits up this winter!

1. The Winter Games NZ

The Winter Games NZ are the highlight of the winter calendar in New Zealand. Featuring a variety of winter sports, including snowboarding, figure and speed skating, curling, cross country sprints, ice hockey and free ski, the Winter Games are an elite winter sports competition combined with a huge winter party!

Events are located from Mt Hutt in Canterbury all the way down to Otago and Southland from the second week in August until the end of the month. The official on-mountain sports and festival events are free to watch.

2. Lyttelton Harbour Matariki Festival Of Lights

The Lyttelton Harbour Matariki Festival of Lights is an annual celebration of winter in the Christchurch port town, what better reason is there to let your hair down and have some fun! The festival is held late July each year, and is a great family night out.

For hours you can enjoy a variety of entertainment, including a masked parade, musicians, dancers, street performances, stalls, a fireworks display, plus much more. For more information on the festival, as well as opportunities to volunteer, visit the Lyttleton Harbour Festival website.

3. Christchurch Arts Festival

Bringing a great mix of local, national and international performances to Christchurch, the Arts Festival runs every two years; the 2021 dates are yet to be announced. Expect to see a wide range of circus and cabaret events, music, dance, theatre and comedy on display along with visual arts events.

The Christchurch Arts Festival is an opportunity to celebrate art in all its forms and enjoy a fun and entertaining experience for the whole family.

Christchurch Fast Facts

Heading to the Garden City this winter? Here are some things you need to know.

  • Christchurch is known locally as the “Garden City” largely due to its many beautiful gardens and tree lined streets.
  • The winter season is officially June through August but the months either side can also be quite cool.
  • Average daytime winter temperatures sit at around 12 degrees Celsius, with lows averaging 3 degrees.
  • Hagley Park in the centre of Christchurch is the third largest city based park in the world.
  • Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island.
  • The city is frequently used as the departure point for Antarctic exploration expeditions.
  • Christchurch has undergone an extensive rebuild since the 2011 Earthquakes (some of which is still underway).

Getting round Canterbury and Christchurch this winter is easy with affordable car hire from USAVE Car Rental. You will find a good selection of powerful 4WD hire vehicles, great for handling winter road conditions, plus minivans and minibuses for travelling with friends and family. Need snow chains? No problem USAVE has these for hire as well.

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