Meandering from the majestic Southern Alps through the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean, the Waimakariri River is known for its scenic beauty. It is also the hub for a number of popular water sports and outdoor activities, from beech forest–lined canyon hikes to jet boat rides that take you spinning around rugged Waimakariri Gorge.
The Waimakariri district is home to wetlands and waterways, including man-made Lake Pegasus, where you can go swimming, kayaking, and sailing. Trout fishing is also a popular way for visitors to get their feet wet in the area, while jet boating promises a more thrilling experience on the Waimakariri River's lower braided river system. Hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and cycling along the river are great choices for adventurers who want to stay dry.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Most water activities and trails are suitable for all ages and abilities.
- Jet boat rides typically last 30 minutes to an hour.
- Check the forecast and expect weather conditions to change; in other words, come prepared.
How to Get There
The Waimakariri district is a 20-minute drive north of Christchurch and its international airport, reached via State Highway 1 or Inland Scenic Route 72. If you don’t have a car, there are numerous transportation options from Christchurch, including bus, rail, and tours that offer hotel pickup.
When to Get There
Trout season runs October through April. Full- or half-day, explorer-style tours in the high country offer an easy escape from Christchurch any time of year. Weekends in the Waimakariri region are brimming with food festivals, farmers markets, art fairs, and other events.
What’s in a Name
Waimakariri is a Maori term meaning “cold water”: an apt description for these snow-fed waters. The region was settled as early as 1700 by Maori groups, who were drawn to the wetlands and waterways that supported abundant food. Now affectionately referred to as The Waimak, the river and its surroundings have been altered since European settlers began farming the rural plains.