Christchurch may be missing some of its iconic heritage buildings, but it’s still a great place to relax in the summer. The garden-filled city and surrounding Canterbury plains are soaked in long hours of sunshine, and there are lots of nearby beaches to take your pick from. Here are our top choices for where to head to in your rental car when the sun is high.
Le Bons Bay – The Banks Peninsula is just south of Christchurch and covered in dozens of beautiful little bays and beaches, accessible by car along winding scenic roads. While Akaroa is considered the main of these, a little detour will take you to its smaller but equally French and attractive sister bay Le Bons. A small community of baches (summer homes) make their home here along with a quiet beach and recreation area, and it’s perfect for a picnic and swim. Be aware there are no shops here, so if there’s anything you need make sure you pack it ahead of time.
Lake Coleridge – Heading inland from Christchurch will take you through rolling golden fields, and nestled amongst the high country of the Canterbury Plains lies Lake Coleridge. A popular destination for locals, it’s known for clear water that’s perfect for swimming, boating and more. There are also a number of smaller lakes along the way in case you’d like to stop somewhere a little less busy. A word of caution – a large section of the road is unsealed, so bring a rental car that will stand the test.
Matanau – Head up State Highway One and turn off just a little past Waipara to arrive in this secluded and beautiful bay. It’s especially great for fishing, with a low island just off the coast shrouded in kelp and housing a vast array of fish species. There are many walks and it’s a little-known spot, so it’s great if you want to get away from the busy crowds.
Geraldine – Heading inland again will take you to Geraldine, a small town with a true country atmosphere. There are many character-filled shops and cafes, with many talented artisans and craftspeople making their home here. You’re also close to Mount Peel, which has excellent hiking opportunities as well as a range of outdoor activity operators.