The Ultimate Family Vacation
5 Day Experience

The Alpine Pacific Touring Route is the perfect place to book your next family holiday. With so many things to do, we guarantee that kids will be fully entertained and parents will be wanting to come back to explore more. It’s never easy planning a trip, so we’ve taken care of it for you by packing together the ultimate family vacation highlighting the best in entertainment. From playing in real snow and ice to swimming under waterfalls and racing down thrilling waterslides, we’ve got your family covered.

Day 1


Christchurch is the gateway to Canterbury and New Zealand's South Island. A vibrant, energetic city where new and exciting spaces are popping up all over the show, Christchurch is a great place to kick-start some family fun.

Transport Busing Driving
Highlight 1

International Antarctic Centre

Explore Antarctica at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch. The perfect blend of education and entertainment, there are plenty of interactive elements that get kids thinking whilst they touch and climb over everything.

Chill out in the world's first indoor Antarctic storm, learn the stories left by the great Antarctic explorers Scott and Shackleton or hang out in the Husky Cuddle Zone.

“A must do for all ages. You will have a truly wonderful day as a family”


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Highlight 2

Christchurch Tram

The Christchurch Trams offer a unique experience combining history and sightseeing.

Enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre on board our beautifully restored heritage Trams, one of Christchurch’s leading attractions,

Our friendly and knowledgeable drivers will inform you about the city, its landmarks and local sights. Your day-long ticket allows you to get on and off the Tram as often as you please!

The journey takes you to the appropriate stop for Punting on the Avon and to many other places to explore.

Cathedral Junction, the Avon River, Gothic-style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and New Regent Street are just some of sights to be seen from the comfort of your Tram, or accessed from the 17 stops en route.


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Day 2

Christchurch to Kaikōura

A two & a half hour drive from Christchurch through North Canterbury’s scenic valleys and coastal beaches takes you to the small seaside town of Kaikōura.

There are plenty of places to rest or take a bathroom break and so much to spot along the way that there’s no reason to get bored.

Stop at one of the many rivers enroute for a quick dip or at the peaceful and tranquil St Anne’s Lagoon to see who can skim the most stones!

Transport Busing Driving
Distance 150 kms
Highlight 1

Orana Wildlife Park

New Zealand's only open-range zoo spreads across 80 hectares of land. You can experience memorable animal encounters such as hand feeding giraffes or meeting rhinos up close and the gorillas are always a hit.

Grab a packed lunch, lather up with some sunscreen and you’re set for the day!

“A relaxing and interesting day out with loads to occupy the children, of all ages! Highly recommended”

“I'll never forget the tigers roar and how you could hear it from anywhere in the huge park!”


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Highlight 2

Ferrymead Heritage Park

Step back in time at Ferrymead Heritage Park. Wander around the Edwardian township and experience life for the early residents of Christchurch, including the smell of a coal range and tram rattling past the door.

Tram rides run on weekends and throughout the school holidays, enjoy a ride on a steam train, with Steam Sunday; the first Sunday of every month. 

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Day 3


Kaikōura is a small coastal town that dots the edge of the Great Pacific Ocean. With mountains jutting out to meet the sea, few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders and marine life as those offered in this picturesque town.

Transport Busing Driving Walking
Highlight 1

Whale Watch Kaikōura

Once you’ve arrived in Kaikōura, jump on-board an afternoon whale watching tour to explore the seaside town’s unique waters filled with whale and dolphin species, seals and albatross – all regular sightings aboard Whale Watch tours.

Introduce your kids to Tutu or Tiaki, local Sperm whales who call Kaikōura home, and watch as the world’s largest toothed predator dives deep down into the underwater canyon.

“Breath-taking seeing these huge, graceful animals with your own eyes.”


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Highlight 2

Dolphin Encounter

Encounter wild Dusky dolphins in their natural habitat as they surround you in pod sizes numbering anywhere between 100 to 1,000. Known as the most acrobatic of the dolphin species, they often perform spectacular displays of leaps, flips and their trademark somersaults.

Become immersed in their world and swim with the dolphins or simply watch from the boat as the breath-taking show unfolds.

“An extraordinary show, somersaulting and leaping high into the air, against snow-capped mountains and clear blue skies.”



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Highlight 3

Wings Over Whales

Wings Over Whales offers incredible scenic whale watching flights out to view the resident sperm whales and other wildlife in Kaikōura, all with the gorgeous backdrop of the Kaikōura Peninsula and Seaward Mountain Ranges. This trip is perfect for families with young children as there is no minimum age limit, as well as for anyone wanting to experience the wildlife from a whole new perspective. Enjoy stunning views of the whales and wildlife, from head to tail! 

”Wings over Whales were super friendly and fantastic with the children. The flight itself will be one of our life highlights”

“My family (2 yr. old and 4 months old) took a flight today. We saw 3 sperm whales and hundreds of dolphins as well as the beautiful Kaikōura scenery all in 30-minute flight. “


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Day 4

Kaikōura to Hanmer Springs

Take the Inland Route to the ultimate alpine escape, Hanmer Springs.

People have been visiting Hanmer Springs for centuries to relax and unwind. It can be the best place to do nothing but there’s a host of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Getting there will take just over two hours with Avalon Llamas a cute stop on the way. You can pat and feed the llamas and get some pretty sweet photos as well!

Transport Busing Driving Walking
Distance 130 kms
Highlight 1

Playful seals at Point Kean

The best place to view seals is at Kaikōura Peninsula, just south of the township, a short walk around the shoreline from Point Kean car park. Seals can also be seen from parts of the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway. Walk among them but don’t touch… they’re a protected species and precious to all New Zealanders.

"So special to be able to walk amongst the seals resting in the beach and rocky ledges of the peninsula." 

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Highlight 2

Thermal Pools and Hydro-Slides

With over 8 types of pools to choose from, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools is sure to have a pool for everyone to enjoy. Soak in the soothing AquaTherapy pools whilst your other half runs the children up and down the waterslides!

The kids will be sure to drag you behind the waterfall and strategically place you under the dumping bucket for their amusement in the heated shallow activity pool.

“My kids’ favourite place of our entire holiday!”

“A winter wonderland. We had snow and it was just beautiful sitting in the hot pools!! Love coming here.”


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Day 5

Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Take your time on the way back to Christchurch and enjoy the last of your holiday away from home. Stop and explore the many small towns on route and see who can be the first to spot the rock that looks like a giant frog!

Transport Busing Driving
Distance 135 kms
Highlight 1

Alpine Crazy Putt & Village Cruisers

A challenging mini golf course which guarantees fun for everyone. The course has an historic Canterbury theme with the holes named and modelled on distinctive local features. It even has a waterfall through the middle.

Not ready to stop the fun just yet? Hire one of their village cruisers for an enjoyable and leisurely way to explore the village.  

“Lots of challenges to level the playing field.”

“We didn’t stop laughing on that cruiser – even the husband got into it!”

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Highlight 2

Hanmer Springs Animal Park

Set on 20 acres amidst spectacular mountain views, you and your family can relax and wander freely among the animals in a clean and peaceful setting.

Hand feed a range of farm and exotic animals including lambs, goats, pigs, ponies, donkeys, llama and water buffalo.

And when you're done, parents can enjoy a cuppa; there's ice cream for the kids!

"Our family has a thing about llamas (don't ask) so they and the alpacas were the highlight of a fun visit. Our boys were squealing with delight with each new animal they met (and no, they're not deprived)."

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Map Summary

Other Points of Interest

Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Central to Christchurch, this awesome playground is absolutely huge with climbing areas, big slides, a flying fox and loads more. Let your kids absorb the fun while you sit back with a coffee from Christchurch’s bustling café scene and set up a blanket picnic on the grass to enjoy the sun.

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Gore Bay & the Cathedral Cliffs

Located near the charming coastal village of Gore Bay scattered with holiday homes, The Cathedrals are one of the South Islands hidden gems. Take your kids to see eroded siltstone pillars that jut out of the ground to create amazing landscape formations with cathedral spiral effects.

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Energy Jet

Departing from the SH1 bridge, this thrilling run down to the coast takes you through exciting river braids and narrow channels under the Hurunui Mouth swing-bridge onto the small community of the Hurunui Mouth village. From here you will enter the magnificent Mouth lagoon where the mighty river meets its destination at the Pacific Ocean. Disembark and then take a walk down to the beach itself. Learn about Maori presence in the area and appreciate the variety of local bird life before enjoying a fast and furious run back up to the SH1 bridge.

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Kaikōura Museum

Weather not quite playing the game or you just can't get enough of the magnificent mammals you have just seen? Pay a visit to Kaikōura’s new museum to take a state-of-the-art visual journey through Kaikōura’s rich past and it’s fascinating connection with the sea.

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South Pacific Helicopters

An unforgettable trip to view the wildlife and scenery of Kaikōura. Experience it all from above for a one-of-a-kind adventure. We welcome guests of all ages 0-99+. Bring the whole family!

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A Day with the Whales

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When Is The Best Time To Go Whale Watching?

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Art in the Forest

Posted on 5 years ago

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