5 quick & easy overnight adventures near Christchurch.

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1 February 2019
By Helen L

In the last few years, I have become quite good at making and sticking to New Year's resolutions. I think the secret is only making resolutions you 100% want to do.

Last year, one of my resolutions was to go on an outdoor adventure once a month. With some quality friends and a bit of forward planning, it was a success! Better yet, they are all close to Christchurch and suitable for beginners.

Here are five overnight adventures, listed in no particular order, for you to try out - with some helpful hints thrown in.

Lake and hills in New Zealand
View from the Awaroa/Goldey Head campsite, New Zealand

1. Awaroa/Goldey Head Campsite.

Driving time: 40 minutes*
Location: View map
Access: Car, campervan & caravan
Bookings: Required
Facilities: Toilets, tap water & wheelchair access

If you have a tent, this is probably the best of the quick and scenic overnight trips. It is a Department of Conservation (DOC) maintained campground with good facilities and lots of things to explore. It is a short walk from a World War Two historic site and has fantastic views across Lyttelton Harbour and down towards Taylors Mistake.

You do need to book this one ahead (then they email you a code to get in the gate) but I don’t think it gets too busy. It is also very easy to get to. In fact, I camped here one Saturday night and made it back to town for church Sunday morning.

See the DoC website for further details.

River and trees in New Zealand
Ashley Gorge, New Zealand

2. Ashley Gorge.

Driving time: 1 hour*
Location: View map
Access: Car, campervan & caravan
Bookings: Required
Facilities: Toilets, showers, cabins, electric stove, tap water & wheelchair access, wifi

Ashley Gorge Reserve hosts a busy holiday park in summer with a range of accommodation choices and lots of nearby activities. The best part is the swimming holes along Ashley River, but there are also plenty of nature walks around.

This would be the most well-equipped campground and is a bit more expensive due to this fact. It also makes a great day trip out for a picnic and a swim.

See the Ashley Gorge Holiday Park website for more information.

3. Peel Forest Campsite.

Driving time: 1 hour & 50 minutes*
Location: View map
Access: Car, campervan & caravan
Bookings: Required
Facilities: Toilets, showers, cabins, electric stoves, tap water & wheelchair access

Okay, I haven’t actually got to this one myself yet, but I have heard great things. It is another DOC campsite, but if you don’t have a tent they also have cabins that sleep four people.

The campsite is set in a scenic forest park with walks of different lengths. It’s worth booking ahead online for this one, particularly for cabins, as it can get busy.

There is also a café nearby that serves a delicious brunch.

Go to the DoC website to book and find out more.

View of mountains and lake from Packhorse Hut in Canterbury, near Christchurch
View from Packhorse Hut, New Zealand

4. Packhorse Hut.

Driving time: 40 minutes*
Location: View map
Access: Walk
Bookings: Required
Facilities: Hut, fireplace, bunk beds, mattresses

Packhorse Hut is made of historic stone and has stunning views of Lyttelton Harbour and Lake Ellesmere.

Located high on the Te Ara Pātaka/Summit Walkway, it can be reached via a 1.5 hour walk from Kaituna Valley Road (mostly uphill, but achievable – I walked this after work on a Friday and survived). Alternatively, there is an easier route from the top of Gebbies Pass Road that takes two hours.

The hut has a fantastic fireplace so bring marshmallows or bread to toast.

Visit the DoC website to find out more.

New Zealand countryside
View from Rod Donald Hut, New Zealand

5. Rod Donald Hut.

Driving time: 1 Hour*
Location: View map
Access: Car, campervan & caravan
Bookings: Required
Facilities: Toilets, fireplace, water, bunk beds, mattresses, lighting

Opened to the public in 2015, Rod Donald Hut is a small, split level cabin located on the Te Ara Pātaka/Summit Walkway. It is well maintained and offers good views of the Little River Valley.

The hut features nine bunks, water supply, a fireplace and the best DOC long drop I have ever encountered.

The hut has two options for getting there. One is a 10-minute walk along a rough dirt track from halfway up Western Valley Road. The other option is a 45-minute walk from Port Levy Saddle (ten minutes further up Western Valley Road), but this way is quite steep going back up to the carpark the next morning.

Go to the DoC website to book and find out more.

Wrapping Up.

All these spots are worth a try so pack your sleeping bags and a couple of games and get out there this summer!

* Estimated driving time from the Christchurch CBD. Excludes tramping durations.

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