Canterbury’s plains and peaks are a mecca for anyone who loves to explore on foot. This beautiful region is easily explored from Christchurch with your Christchurch car hire from Hertz Christchurch – here are some of our top picks for day walks/hikes in the area.
Diamond Harbour is a settlement on the Banks Peninsula, further around the inlet from Christchurch. Stoddart Point dominates the headland here; this walkway takes you along the cliff’s edge past steep drop offs, through native bush and woodlands, and emerges in the village centre. You’ll enjoy great views across the harbour.
Passing through Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park this track takes in spectacular craggy landscapes of ice and rock and follows alongside the Hooker River. There are many different ways to walk this track so it can take as few as 1.5 hours or as many as 4-5 hours to hike the full walk. Start at the visitor centre of the carpark/campground at the end of Hooker Valley Rd off State Highway 80. Make your way up the Hooker Valley along the river and end at the glacier lake, where a clear day will put Aoraki/Mt Cook on full display. You’ll cross three amazing swing bridges along the way and see glaciers, icebergs and mountains. It’s mostly flat and easy to follow but parts can be rocky or muddy and the weather can change quickly.
North of Christchurch lies the coastal township of Kaikoura. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway– easily accessible from the town centre – takes an hour to do and is known for its ocean and wildlife views. Marked posts and signs indicate the loop walkway from town to the carpark at Point Kean. Seals are likely to be in the carpark itself – most of these are males and can be aggressive so keep a safe distance. Breeding females and their pups are found on the platforms further out from the carpark. At low tide you may also see herons, oystercatchers, shags or even penguins.
A walk up the hill from the carpark takes you to a lookout, a platform shapes like a waka. Here there are interpretive panels telling stories about the area. You can take the track across the clifftops and look out to sea – keep an eye out for whales or dolphins.