Ron LaughlinThe Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide
Welcome to the Ashburton District

Driving times from Ashburton to:
Christchurch Airport 1 hour
Rakaia 25 min
Christchurch Central City 1 hour 20 min
Hinds 25 min
Methven/Mt Hutt Village 30 min
Picton 5 hour 30 mins
Mt Somers/Foothills 30 min
Queenstown 4 hours

Cruising on south an hour's drive from Christchurch is the Ashburton District. You have two highway choices staying on Route One or the scenic inland Route 72.
The inland route is highly recommended as it takes you through the town of Methven the heart and soul of skiing here in the winter at Mt Hutt and is interesting to visit in the summer. For the walkers and trampers the Mt. Somers sub-alpine walk is rated #10 in New Zealand.

This is where you take the balloon up to really see the area from a geat perspective - Aoraki Hot Air Balloon Safari Website: The central Canterbury Plains is the finest place in New Zealand for Hot Air Ballooning.
See the full 300km panorama of the entire Canterbury Plains including pristine views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Mt Cook National Park mountains by Mt Hutt ski field. A unique way to enjoy New Zealand's rural heartland and the spectacular Southern Alps
Let their experienced pilots and ground crew take care of you on a fantastic skyward adventure. They are passionate about both hot air ballooning and the central Canterbury region and look forward to sharing their knowledge and time with you ensuring a personal experience you will never forget.
Celebrate your big day in a magical way, aboard a hot air balloon! Aoraki Balloon Safaris has been a part of many weddings with couples coming from all over the world to be married aboard a hot air balloon in Methven.

​Lake Hood is but five minutes from Ashburton where the annual Aquafest is held each February. Wheels Week every May is a celebration to the heritage attractions in the area such as the Vintage Car Museum Aviation Museum and the Historical Village.

Rakaia is known for its world class salmon fishing on the Rakaia River. From November to March people from all over enjoy positive results. If you are there in February maybe you can join in the annual Rakaia Fishing Competition.

Here is where you stay in this area – Rakaia River Holiday Park & Motels
Robyn, Ross and Sam (their Border collie) will welcome you to Rakaia River Holiday Park, located beside the Rakaia River, one of the best salmon fishing rivers in New Zealand. They are sure to have something to fit your requirements and budget with our range of Accommodation facilities that include - Park Motels, Fisherman's Cottage, Backpacker Cabins, Onsite Caravans and Powered & Tent Sites. You will enjoy our sheltered powered sites and tent sites set amongst the trees.
You will find them only 40 minutes drive South of Christchurch, 20 minutes to Ashburton and 35 minutes to the Mt Hutt Ski area. In only 30 minutes you can drive to 5 beautiful and challenging golf courses. There is also a number of interesting nature walks in the area.
If its fishing you are after - there are Salmon and trout in the river and Kawhai, Cod and other sea fishing only 10 minutes drive away. Our central location is an ideal base from which to explore the wonderful and varied Ashburton District, and our friendly relaxed environment assures you of a restful holiday in our sheltered riverside location.

From The Rakaia River it is 28 kms to Ashburton. A very large Alpaca Farm is just on the right after the Rakaia River. Alpaca farming has become quite prevalent in New Zealand as you will note along many of the routes you are on. Haven't checked but this farm seems to be the largest.

Speaking of farming by now you must have taken notice of the amount of sheep in the fields. I just read in the paper where New Zealand had 40 million ewes and a lamb count of 123%. That's a lot of sheep. Ashburton celebrates a fine wine and food festival called the Wooly Munchie in January in celebration of one of New Zealand's finest productions.

To really enjoy the area it is recommended to stop overnight and spend some time. A great place to stay is the Coronation Park in Ashburton. Fabulous accommodation available from backpackers to studio apartments plus places to park the campervan.

The best place to stop in Ashburton for coffee and a meal is the 'Lunch' cafe off the main street at 160 Burnett Street. Will match any cafe in any city for its ambiance, staff, fine food and coffee. (Ask about the lemon meringue pie). We must give Lunch one of the top ratings in the South Island overall.

The town also has a beautiful Domain on the road to Timaru where we occasionally stop for a break in the peaceful setting.

Fifteen kms south of Ashburton we turn off to one of our favourite towns in the South Island - Geraldine.

Ashburton Tourism
Ashburton Information
Ashburton Guardian - newspaper
Ashburton Information
Ashburton Information

Ashburton Domain
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