Escape the crowded city malls and get a breath of fresh air with a side of boutique shopping! Just a short drive from central Christchurch you can peruse the latest fashion, quality preloved clothing, top-end homewares, giftware, art and more amongst Waimakariri’s lively urban centres and lovely rural towns.
Whether you're visiting for the day or the weekend, make time to explore and allow plenty of stops to revive yourself at one the many cafés and restaurants along the way.
Explore the picturesque river town of Kaiapoi just a 20-minute drive from Christchurch.
Built on the banks of the Kaiapoi River and close to the mouth of the Waimakariri River, Kaiapoi is a rapidly growing town with the heart and feel of a village. Get amongst Kaiapoi's aquatic activities with a river cruise on the replica paddle steamer or go at your own pace with a kayak or paddleboard hire from KORE.
Later, explore the boutique shops and relax at The Port and Eagle Brewpub, overlooking the Kaiapoi River with a local brew.
Something of a Canterbury institution, the beautiful Ashley Gorge is less than an hour’s drive from Christchurch. Nestled against Mount Thomas Forest and surrounded by native bush, the Ashley Gorge is a perfect spot for the whole family. Pack a picnic and your togs and make a day of it at the Ashley Gorge Holiday Park, relaxing on the grassy terrace, utilizing the picnic tables and swimming in the safe waters.
Finish your visit in nearby Oxford with a bite to eat at the famous Sheffield Pie Shop and a browse of the array of books and gifts at Emma’s at Oxford - a treasure in itself.
Just 30 minutes’ drive from Christchurch you’ll discover the beachside settlement of Waikuku. Fun for the whole family is guaranteed with surf, sun, sand and shopping aplenty! Try your hand at surfing and book a lesson with Surfwise, check in to a session of yoga at The Yoga Club, or grab an ice cream and coffee at the local store while you watch the kids in the toddler pool. There's plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs in Waikuku with a scenic walk around the estuary, up the Ashley/Rakahuri River and the Taranaki Walkway to see numerous birds and discover where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. When you’ve had enough sun head to The Brick Mill Complex and The Old School Collective on SH1 for boutique shopping and delicious food.
Home to two Conservation Areas, the valleys and ridgelines of North Canterbury’s foothill forests offer easy access to fantastic outdoor adventures. Located at the foot of the Southern Alps within an hour’s drive of Christchurch, Waimakariri’s numerous trails are popular with walkers, trampers, picnickers, hunters and campers. Tailor your adventure to suit your skill level – with options ranging from short nature walks to challenging tramping routes along exposed mountain tops.
Our top pick (and listed as one of the top five waterfalls in Canterbury) is Ryde Falls in Oxford Forest Conservation Area. Take your togs and your dog and cool down in the pool at the falls.
Get on your bike and make a day of it on the many bike trails around the eastern part of Waimakariri.
These easy trails highlight the best natural features of the region including the Waimakariri and Kaiapoi Rivers, regenerating coastal forests and wetlands and the Ashley/Rakahuri River. You’ll also discover beautiful beach settlements and the urban centres of Kaiapoi and Rangiora. Take your time, enjoy the views and replenish yourself in the many local cafes and restaurants along the way. Opt for a 60km loop track or pick and choose your shorter rides to suit your schedule and ability.
Waimakariri's eastern cycle tracks are joined by on-road facilities so please take care on our roads amongst the traffic.