Add dates
Things to do in

Canterbury, New Zealand

Our most recommended things to do in Canterbury, New Zealand

Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

1. Kaikoura: Whale Watching Cruise

Take a whale-watching cruise off the Kaikoura coast, and see giant sperm whales in their natural environment. Enjoy onboard commentary as you encounter a range of wildlife, including fur seals, pods of dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Set sail on a catamaran, equipped with engines that minimize underwater noise and nonpolluting toilets. Take in the views from the large outdoor decks or stay inside the air-conditioned interiors with comfortable seating and plasma screens displaying marine wildlife animations. Gain an insight into the habitat with scientific information and indigenous knowledge about these creatures from the crew. Passenger numbers are kept well below the vessel's capacity to ensure a more personal experience.

Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

2. Mount Cook: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing

Experience Mount Cook National Park from the sky. Enjoy a 25-minute scenic adventure that includes an alpine landing amongst the mountains. Have exceptional views of Aoraki (Mt Cook) and the surrounding snow-capped mountain ranges right from take off.  Be captivated throughout the entire flight. Explore the valleys and peaks of the national park. Journey through the Tasman Valley and over a breathtaking blue glacier lake. Experience an alpine landing on the stunning upper snowfields in the Southern Alps.  Disembark the aircraft and enjoy the elevated alpine landscape before returning to the helicopter to fly back to Mount Cook Airport. Your expert pilot will offer informative and interesting commentary throughout the flight to ensure you receive the best possible experience.

Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

3. Kaikoura: Dolphin Encounter Cruise

Cruise along the scenic Kaikoura coast as you watch for dolphins. During the cruise, you'll be able to swim with the dolphins in their natural habitat or watch their antics from the comfort of the boat. Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter the Dusky Dolphins in their natural environment. The Dusky Dolphins are some of the most interactive and acrobatic species of dolphins, making them thrilling to watch and interact with. 

Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

4. Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

Take in some of New Zealand’s most impressive mountains during a helicopter ride. Land among them for even more spectacular views and fantastic photo opportunities. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to enjoy your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley over the ice river. Take in the ice pinnacles and crevasses before flying onwards amongst the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated landing site to enjoy stunning views of some of New Zealand’s highest mountains. You will have plenty of time to take incredible photos before returning to the hangar.

Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

5. Lake Tekapo: Mount John Observatory Stargazing Tour

Explore the pristine night sky, stunning summit surroundings, and sophisticated viewing technologies as expert guides share the science and stories of New Zealand's skies on a stargazing tour. Make your way up Mount John on foot to the renowned Mount John Observatory, which is in partnership with the University of Canterbury. Hear stories about the stars, galaxies, and planets from your guides. The unpolluted environment around Lake Tekapo provides outstanding conditions for observations and discoveries of the southern sky.

Mount Cook: 3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier

6. Mount Cook: 3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier

Enjoy a once in a lifetime heli hiking experience on the Tasman Glacier in the Aoraki (Mount Cook) National Park. Begin your adventure with a flight from Mount Cook airport over the gorgeous Tasman Glacier Lake and ice formations. Venture on to the surprisingly undulating ice terrain, in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, Aoraki, and Mount Tasman. Be equipped with glacier boots and crampons and spend 2 hours in another world in the mountains. On the return flight home, you will fly close to the massive 1,000-meter high Hochstetter Icefall on the eastern face of Aoraki. Take in the picturesque landscapes that are covered in beautiful white snow and ice year round. 

Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

7. Mount Cook: Ski Plane and Helicopter Alpine Combo Flight

Fly in a ski plane and a helicopter on the same day for an unforgettable experience of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Enjoy a scenic adventure that includes a glacier snow landing. From take-off to landing, enjoy spectacular views. Fly up the Tasman Valley over the breathtaking blue glacier lake. See the Hochstetter Icefall and the cloud-piercing Aoraki/Mount Cook before landing on the upper snowfields of the Tasman Glacier.  Take time to enjoy this unique alpine environment. These mountains are covered in snow and ice all year round, and the aircraft fully shuts down on landing.  Then, swap aircraft and return to Mount Cook Airport. During the tour, you'll also see Tasman Terminal Lake, Grand Plateau, Plateau Hut, as well as the full length of the Tasman Glacier.

From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

8. From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

Enjoy a small-group tour of the most iconic Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand, specially designed for fans of the films. Within minutes of leaving Queenstown, reach the Glenorchy Road, which follows the edges of the Great Lake Wakatipu, and has been voted  one of the top 10 drives in the world. Admire snowcapped mountains that arise around every corner of the journey. Your first stop will be the 12 Mile Delta. Here, enjoy a short nature walk over the 12 Mile canyon footbridge and spot trout and salmon in the crystal-clear water below. Learn about the local flora and fauna and visit the locations, where scenes from the films were shot. Next, refuel with a delicious morning or afternoon tea picnic near the famous Glenorchy red shed and wharf. Once you have eaten enough to satisfy a Hobbit, adventure further into the World Heritage Mt. Aspiring National Park, home of Lothlorien Forest, where you will have the opportunity to snap some photographs dressed as your favorite Lord of the Rings character with replica swords from the trilogy. Next, head up the Dart Valley through "Paradise" to Isengard for some time to enjoy this amazing location in this spectacular glacier-carved valley. Stories and behind-the-scenes secrets will be shared by your passionate local guides on the way back to Queenstown.

Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Flight

9. Kaikoura: 30-Minute Whale Watching Flight

Receive an informative briefing of the Sperm Whales and other wildlife of Kaikoura, ready for your 30-minute flight experience. Learn about its unique geology, and what you can expect to see during the flight. Spend a special half hour viewing these majestic creatures from a unique vantage point.  Head directly out over the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary to start looking for Kaikoura's wildlife. This whale watching flight showcases the year-round whales and dolphins, as well as the stunning coastline and peninsula. Focusing on the mighty Sperm Whale, this is a once-in-a-lifetime flight to view these animals, as well as other whale and dolphin species that migrate through Kaikoura's waters.  All aircraft are high-winged, which allows each person their own window seat and optimal, unobstructed viewing and photography opportunities. Your tour finishes back at the terminal where there is a gift shop and refreshments available.

Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

10. Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo Day Tour from Christchurch

Experience dramatic glacier lakes, snow-capped mountains, and beautiful alpine walks on a small-group day trip from Christchurch. After pick-up from your hotel, journey to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, located a 4 hours' drive through spectacular and breathtaking landscapes. Visit the historic town of Geraldine. Then discover the heart of Mackenzie Country, the captivatingly turquoise Lake Tekapo, the iconic Church of Good Shepherd, and the well-recognized statue of Sheepdog. Travel through Lake Pukaki and admire stunning views of Mt. Cook from a distance. Enjoy a short scenic hike in the National Park to view the 23.5kms long Tasman Glacier which is the longest glacier in New Zealand. On your return journey, visit the Alpine Lavender Farm and capture some beautiful moments in the pristine environment.

Frequently asked questions about Canterbury, New Zealand

What top attractions are a must-see in Canterbury, New Zealand?

The must-see attractions in Canterbury, New Zealand are:

Which tours in Canterbury, New Zealand are taking additional COVID-19 precautions?

Other Sightseeing Options in Canterbury, New Zealand

Want to discover all there is to do in Canterbury, New Zealand? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Canterbury, New Zealand

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,581 reviews

My partner and I enjoyed the trip even though it was raining and we didn't get to see the reflections on the lake. Our tour guide Dale [donkey] was full knowledge about history. Well worth doing for sure

Great staff and very organised, they make jokes and make you feel calm before your jump. Also very helpful with any worries you have have, nothing is a problem. Wonderful experience.

Rich was an amazing guide and complemented by Dan the pilot. Thanks for a truly memorable day exceeded our expectations. Highly recommend this tour/experience.

Our captain was great at getting us to Matamata’s location. Seeing a whale was such a surreal experience and the tour was very informative.

Excellent tour. The tour guide was fantastic and knew everything about the movies, including a lot of other movies as well.