Introducing North Canterbury
From Christchurch, SH1 heads north for 57km through Woodend and Amberley to Waipara. From here it continues northeast to Kaikoura, while SH7 branches due north to Hurunui, through flat farming country, to reach Culverden. About 27km from Culverden is the turn-off from SH7 to Hanmer Springs, a thermal resort. The Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Guide (available from Hanmer Springs and Christchurch i-SITES) outlines things to see and do in this region. See also www.visithurunui.co.nz.
If you’re a wine buff or foodie, look for the North Canterbury Food & Wine Trail touring map at the i-SITE in Christchurch. Online, see www.foodandwinetrail.co.nz.
The Brew Moon Garden Café & Brewery on SH75 in Amberley crafts four different beers; sample them all for $12. Our favourite is the gloriously hoppy Hophead IPA. Gourmet pizzas ($20 to $25) and meals including Akaroa salmon and steak sandwiches are also available. Coffee and New York–style baked cheesecake ($10) are other tasty options.
A few kilometres up SH1, the scenic Waipara Valley is home to around 20 wineries; see www.waiparawines.co.nz. Sample a pinot noir or riesling and stop for lunch at one of the spectacular vineyard restaurants. Waipara Springs, Pegasus Bay and the Mud House are open daily for wine tasting and sales, and all have restaurant-cafes for a leisurely lunch. During summer, the Mud House also hosts occasional local and international concerts; see www.adayonthegreen.com.au. The annual Waipara Wine and Food Festival is held in early March. Wine tours are available from several Christchurch-based companies.
The Pegasus Bay Restaurant has an old-world ambience set amid a lovely European-style garden. The menu takes advantage of superb local produce and recommends appropriate wine matches – Pegasus Bay is a regular contender for NZ’s Best Winery Restaurant award. Booking ahead is recommended.
Near the intersection with SH7 is Waipara Sleepers, where you can camp, bunk down in converted train carriages and cook your own meals in the ‘station house’. The local pub and general store are located close by.
Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman Trails
An exciting blend of remote and iconic walks on the upper South Island
Molesworth High Country Cycle
Enjoy wineries, whales and hot pools as well as a delightful stay on New Zealand's largest high country farm