Mt Hutt is one of the highest ski areas in the southern hemisphere, as well as one of NZ’s best. It’s close to Methven and can be reached by bus from Christchurch (118km to the west). Ski shuttles run to/from both towns. The ski area’s access road is a rough, unpaved ride − drivers should be extremely cautious when the weather is lousy. Mt Hutt has beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes, with a six-seater chairlift, various other lifts and heliskiing to slopes further afield. The wide-open faces are good for snowboard learners.
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HeliPark New Zealand
Exclusive Mt Potts is HeliPark New Zealand – one of NZ’s snow-white gems, sitting above the headwaters of the Rangitata River, 75km from Methven. It offers a helicopter-accessed skiing experience. Accommodation and meals are available at a lodge 8km from the ski area − dinner, bed and breakfast (DB&B) costs from $109.
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The closest commercial ski area to Christchurch is Porters, 96km away on the Arthur’s Pass road. Its Big Mama, at 620m, is one of the steepest runs in NZ, but there are wider, gentler slopes, too. There’s a half-pipe for snowboarders, good cross-country runs along the ridge, and lodge accommodation (DB&B $83).
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Mt Lyford is 60km from both Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura, and 4km from Mt Lyford village. It’s a ‘resort’ in the true sense, with accommodation and plenty of food options available. There’s a good mix of runs, suiting beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders, and a terrain park.
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Dating from 1882, the photogenic green-and-whiteAntigua Boatsheds rents out various self-propelled vessels for independent Avon River exploration. There’s also an excellent cafe, which is a great spot for brunch or lunch. The boatsheds are the starting point for Punting on the Avon, where someone else does all the work during a half-hour return trip in a flat-bottomed boat. There is another departure point for punting from the landing stage at the Worcester St bridge. A combination ticket (adult/child $30/15) is available that includes the Tramway.
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Banks Peninsula Track
The Banks Peninsula Track is a 35km four-day walk across private farmland and around the dramatic coastline of Banks Peninsula; cost includes transport from Akaroa and hut accommodation. A two-day option ($160) covers the same ground at twice the speed.
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Canterbury Wine Tours
Experience three Waipara vineyards on the half-day trip, or make a day of it and sample four different wineries with lunch ($119).
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