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Canterbury Region Major Towns

Akaroa

It is New Zealand's only French settlement, and its heritage is obvious from the architecture and French street names.

Akaroa has its own beach, and there are other beautiful beaches within thirty minutes of the town. A harbour cruise to view Hectors dolphins, blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and cormorants.

Ashburton

Ashburton features stately trees, elegant gardens, numerous museums and superb fishing rivers. You'll find an excellent choice of accommodation and restaurants.

Ashburton has a total of six museums, including vintage railway, aviation and car museums. Local craft galleries are definitely worth a look.

Christchurch

The first four ships arrived from England to settle Christchurch in 1850. In less than 160 years they and their progeny built central Christchurch from scratch, into the attractive blend of Victorian, Edwardian architecture interwoven with contemporary urbanism it is today.

Take a romantic ride on the Avon River in a punt. Explore historic churches and buildings, museums, galleries, parks and gardens.

Hanmer Springs

The heated waters of Hanmer Springs have attracted visitors for two centuries. The town is an year-round holiday destination offering a variety of outdoor activities, restaurants and accommodation.

Hike or mountain bike along the many forest trails. Enjoy the hot pools at the thermal reserve.

Kaikoura

Majestic mountains, snow-capped for several months of the year, overlook this charming seaside settlement. Blessed with magnificent sperm whales, dolphins, fur seals and royal albatross, Kaikoura has become a magnet for tourists.

There are many things to do in Kaikoura including horse trekking, skiing Mount Lyford, bird watching and cave tours. Kaikoura also holds an annual Sea-fest which is becoming known as one of the premier festivals in New Zealand.

Timaru

Canterbury's second largest city is surrounded by hills that slope gently down to beautiful Caroline Bay. The name Timaru means The Place of Shelter in Maori, as it was one of the few havens for sea-going canoes on this coast.

A vibrant social scene is provided by the restaurants and cafés that link the beach to the main shopping area. Caroline Bay is Timaru's main attraction. It has a safe swimming beach, a maze, mini-golf, a landscaped piazza and walks.