Selwyn is diverse in its land, from mountains to sea. Milder temperatures near the sea contrast with snowy mountains in Arthur's Pass. A district that shimmers with hidden gems in the winter.
You'll find some neat activities to do with your family that are a little unique, so venture out and explore the Selwyn region this winter.
Stargazing in Selwyn
Did you know West Melton has an Observatory?
The Canterbury Astronomical Society has its own Observatory at Bells Road, West Melton. It is a bit out of town, but this is perfect as the light pollution in this area is low, meaning it is much easier to see the stars. One of the great things about stargazing in winter, is that it gets dark much earlier, meaning it won’t be a late night for your kids.
You don’t have to be a member to visit on Public Viewing Nights, and they always have open evenings as part of Christchurch’s KidsFest. On the tours, you will learn all about the stars, constellations and planets. With their huge telescopes you should even be able to see the rings of Saturn.
Observatory and Star Gazing tours are available for children 5 years and older, but they do book out fast, so it pays to book tickets early. KidsFest tickets range between $8-$10 per person.
Selwyn is great for stargazing as there are many rural spots away from the light. If you are living in a township, take a short drive to somewhere like The Willows in West Melton, Motukarara or Castle Hill. Anywhere where you are away from the lights of the city will do.
You can use the Selwyn District Council Matariki Skyguide to help you learn about the stars, or instead, grab an app such as Star Walk 2. Using the app, point your phone at the sky and find out what constellations or planets you are looking at.
A few stargazing 101 tips
- Crisp clear winter nights are the best as there is no humidity and the sky is clearer
- The sky will be darkest on a new moon
- One of the best constellations to find for kids is Scorpius, as it is really easy to imagine it as a scorpion.
- Discover the difference between stars and planets. Stars twinkle, whereas planets are constantly bright, and are usually brighter than surrounding stars.
- It is cold in the winter for kids, so bring warm clothes, a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate for warm treats.
outdoor ice Skating rink
at Forest Lodge, Mt Cheeseman
Do you have winter dreams of ice skating on an outdoor rink? Hidden up at the Forest Lodge at Mt Cheeseman is a beautiful outdoor ice skating rink. If you are staying at the lodge, they have vintage skates you can borrow, or other visitors can borrow them for a gold coin donation.
Winter Warm Ups
Winter is the perfect reason to warm up with a decent hot chocolate. It just sings of the snowy season and the kids love them too. If you are looking for a hot chocolate that is a little different, head down to Taste of Kiwi in Springfield.
They have creamy white chocolates that your children will devour, and Mum and Dad might like a change, with a Salted Caramel Latte or Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Delish!
When it is freezing outside, there is nothing better than cuddling up beside the fire for a hot lunch. The fire at the Dunsandel Store is greatly positioned to warm the whole cafe, but the best spot is on the comfy couches right in front.
They have a great brunch menu for a winter warmup meal. Make sure you try the Dunsandel Store specialty mince on toast.
Free Snow Play in Arthur's Pass
If you are after a bit of free snow fun, then take a winter road trip into Arthur's Pass. Do be aware the road can be snowy and icy, but if you are careful and travel in daylight, it is doable.
Sometimes it's not always possible to go up to the ski field for that snow adventure. Perhaps you're looking to make memories of your little ones' first time in the snow. Arthur's Pass is a great place to head to in Selwyn for a snowy winter adventure.
Some great little spots to build a snowman and take a sled include Castle Hill/Kura Tawhiti or Lake Lyndon.
Snuggle in at the Apollo Cinema, Lincoln
When it's wet, miserable and cold, pick yourself up and take the family to the Apollo Cinema in Lincoln. This 15 seat boutique cinema shows all the latest films, including a good selection of kids films over the school holidays.
They also run Mums and Bubs sessions, which is ideal in the small setting. Parents can grab a group of friends and enjoy a winter morning at the cinema without having to worry about their chatty little ones.
Since it is right onsite, after your movie you should head to The Laboratory for a bite. The wood fired pizzas are always a win with the kids and if you can get your hands on one of their famous donuts, you won’t be disappointed.
The Great Alpine Highway runs from Christchurch to Greymouth, but for a great day trip, head to Arthur's Pass. The Great Alpine Highway is most beautiful in winter. The snowcapped mountains and glistening lakes are beautiful sights, and there are some great little stops along the way
- A stop in Springfield at the Springfield Donut and a piping hot pie
- Warm up climbing the rocks at Kura Tāwhiti/Castle Hill or the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall walk in Arthur's Pass Village. (We highly recommend uphill walks in winter as the kids stay much warmer)
- Grab lunch at the Arthur's Pass Café and Store
- Spot a Kea in Arthur's Pass (our famous mountain parrot native to New Zealand - but whatever you do, don’t feed them, however nosey they get)
Get the body moving at the Doyleston Bike Track
When it's cold outside, it's time to get your blood pumping, so grab your bikes and head down to the Doyleston Bike Track. Just outside of Leeston, the bike park is a great pump track for toddlers with balance bikes, up to older kids who can practice teetering on the balance sections. Those learning to ride can also use the tennis/netball courts on site.
There is a fully fenced playground for under 5s as well as a more advanced playground for older kids, so this really is a great space for the whole family.
Once you have worked up an appetite, pop down and grab a bite at the contemporary cafe and restaurant, Suburban Eatery.
A winter wonderland in Selwyn
Even as the winter weather cools down, there is still plenty to get involved with out and about in Selwyn. What's your favourite way of staying active over the winter months? Where is the best spot in Selwyn to get a delicious hot chocolate? We'd love to hear all about it. Make sure you tag us on Facebook and Instagram to share your wintery adventures around Selwyn District.