When you want to travel but can’t get time off, a weekend away is the perfect solution. For just two days, you can have the relaxing vacation you need, without worrying about missing too much valuable work time.
Granted, New Zealand is a bit far-flung for most people to do in a weekend. But it’s also one of the places in the world where you can pack the most into just a few days. With that in mind, here are two weekend getaways in the country’s South Island, full of adventure and relaxation alike, and perfect for a brief respite from regularly life
Christchurch and Surrounding Areas
From adrenaline rushes to serene gardens, Christchurch has it all. That’s ideal in this case, because it means you can pack a lot into one weekend. We’d recommend you start with a morning hike at Godley Head Park. If you loop by Taylor’s Mistake, it’s about a six-mile hike, and the terrain isn’t too difficult, even though it offers beautiful views of your surroundings.
For a bolder adventure after your hike, you might consider going skydiving Because it’s such a pretty and adventure-loving area, Christchurch has become something of a hub for this dare-devil activity. You’ll dive in tandem with an expert, and be all through in time for lunch, equipped with a new life-long memory.
Speaking of lunch, if you want to absorb a bit more of the area while slowing down and calming those nerves after some morning adventures, try taking a walk in the botanic gardens. They’ve been there for over a century, and make or a beautiful spot for a leisurely stroll and a picnic. Afterwards, if you still have some energy, you can walk through the streets in Riccarton, and see some of Christchurch’s famous mural art on Brockworth Street.
If there’s still some daylight left and you want an interesting and fun-fillleda afternoon, you should head to Ko Tane, an interactive experience at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve that teaches you about the Maori people. Members of this indigenous people group perform a haka and other traditional songs and dances, and finish up by serving a traditional dinner. The tour includes transportation back to Christchurch after the meal.
On the second day of your weekend, we’d recommend starting off with brunch at Luciano’s Espresso Bar, an indulgent café with lots more on the menu than espresso. Then, spend the day whitewater rafting on the Rangitata River. We mentioned that Christchurch is an adventurous place, so this kind of experience is ideal for wrapping up your time there. You can even book a trip that includes transportation to Canterbury and a barbecue – a perfect end to a fun-filled weekend.
For another exciting weekend, you can visit Dunedin. Start your first day off with the best coffee in the area at Morning Magpie on Stuart Street, a necessary stop in a city known for its delicious offerings. Next, if you’re up for some physical activity, try your hand at surfing on one of the many beaches around the city. For larger waves, head to Lawyer’s Head; if you’re just learning, opt for Victory Beach. Surfing can be a bit frustrating at first, but it’s still a fun way to enjoy these beautiful beaches, and New Zealand is one of the best places in the world to learn.
In the afternoon, you can take a nice walk along the Otago Peninsula to look for wildlife – especially penguins. The blue penguins and the yellow-eyed penguins are rare treats, and you’ll enjoy catching a glimpse. Just make sure you don’t get too close and disturb them!
For the evening, you can put on your favourite outfit, find a nice restaurant in town (there are too many to choose from to list here), and then head to the Dunedin Casino for a bit of low-key recreation. Many Kiwis have gotten partial to finding their casino activity online, given access to Australia’s extensive online gambling scene, and some local New Zealand sites as well. However, from the tourist’s perspective, it’s fun to duck into some of the city casinos around the country. Dunedin’s is a very elegant and classy one, too – nothing gaudy or obnoxious.
On Sunday, you’ll want to head over to the beautiful Larnach Castle, which is actually a 19th-century mansion (with a bit of a salacious history). You’ll love the views and the history you find, along with the leisurely pace with which you can explore the lovely grounds. Afterward, we’d recommend heading back to the centre of town for a delicious lunch at Nova – one of Dunedin’s best restaurants, and aa place where the menu is always changing. Whatever’s being served, a high-end culinary experience is just the way to wrap up your stay.
Ultimately, whichever destination you choose, you’ll be in for a wonderful, enriching getaway. Neither Christchurch nor Dunedin is the place to visit if you just want to take it easy, but if you’re interested in packing as much as possible into a couple days, you’ll see and do more in these cities than you can in most.