Art & History

4 Days

If you love stories of the past filled with moments of wonder, you will love this Art & History itinerary tour of Selwyn.

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Day 1 of 4

Christchurch, Tai Tapu, Gebbies Valley, Lincoln, Tai Tapu

Cross Hares Winery 4

The land around Selwyn has been nurturing and providing for people for over 700 years. It’s a region filled with history, art, and culture, some of which has gone on to influence the world. If you love stories of the past filled with moments of wonder, you will love this Art & History itinerary tour of Selwyn.

Don’t fill up before you leave town! You’ll want to be hungry when you arrive for breakfast at The Raspberry Café in Tai Tapu. When the sun is shining, you can sit outdoors in their beautiful courtyard. The Raspberry Cafe focuses on creating fresh, homemade food. The Café Hotcakes are always in demand, while the Eggs Benedict plates up local produce on a house made bun. It’s also a destination for fresh raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries in season. Their incredible range of cakes are world famous in Tai Tapu, so make sure you pick up a slice or two for the road.

Your first taste of history lies along Gebbies Pass Road at the Church of the Epiphany. This heritage building was consecrated in January of 1885. The brick bell tower was added much later in 1914. This historic church was badly damaged in the 2010-2011 earthquakes, and great care has been taken with its restoration.

Selwyn may not be the oldest wine growing region in New Zealand, but many of our vintages are fast becoming classics. Stop by the cellar door at Cross Hares Winery, built on the site of the Ahuriri Run holding, first farmed in the 1850s. Natalie and Warrick can tell you stories of the land and their vineyard as you sample their finest drops. Be sure to grab a bottle or two of your favourites to go.

Time for lunch, and you can’t go past The Laboratory. This microbrewery in the heart of Lincoln was largely built using salvaged materials from earthquake damaged buildings, artfully blending the historic and modern. With a range of beer made on site, tasty woodfired pizza or some of the biggest burgers you’ve ever seen, The Lab has something to satisfy everyone.

Lincoln is home to some of Selwyn’s oldest landmarks, so why not take a walking tour of the historic township? This easy, 45 minute, selfguided walk will take you through the heart of Lincoln, and entertain you along the way. Pick up a physical map from the Lincoln Library, or download the Township Trails Selwyn App to find your way around. Highlights include Lincoln  University, which was founded in 1878 and is the oldest agricultural teaching institution in the Southern Hemisphere.

On your walk, pop into Down by the Liffey Gallery. Every four weeks, this award-winning community gallery showcases a new exhibition from a different local artist. You may also find a unique work in their gift shop to take with you.

Make your way back towards Tai Tapu, stopping at St Paul’s Anglican Church. This church was designed by Fredrick Strouts, who was also the architect of the homestead where you’ll be staying tonight. Consecrated in 1932, St Pauls was commissioned by Sir Heaton Rhodes in memory of his late wife, Jessie. One wall incorporates a stone from St Paul’s Cathedral in London, while the rest of the stones came from Australia and Rhodes’ Otahuna Estate.

Which brings you to your lodgings for the night – Otahuna Lodge. Built in 1895, this seven-suite, heritage homestead is considered one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in Australasia. Give yourself time to examine the stained-glass windows, carved inglenooks, and fireplace hearths before dinner. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, make your way around the 30 acre, 110 year old garden, with its blend of exotic and native plants.

Speaking of dinner, prepare yourself for a four course degustation menu which changes daily. The chefs at Otahuna Lodge hero the finest locally grown ingredients, with an emphasis on the estate’s own garden and orchard. Like the decor, dinner at Otahuna Lodge is an experience of restrained elegance.

Day 2 of 4

Darfield, Glentunnel, Hororata, Windwhistle

Inland Scenic Sequence

Start your day with a touch of culture at Lakeland Gallery in Leeston. Explore a range of works from local artists in a variety of media. Most of the works are also for sale, so come prepared to fall in love and take your favourite piece home.

One more gallery before lunch. Te Huanui is a modern community gallery that organises a new exhibition each month. When it was created in 1998, this was the only art gallery promoting the works of Selwyn’s artistic community.

You’re about to head into some of the more remote parts of Selwyn, so it will pay to stock up on food now. The Fat Beagle Café in Darfield has a cabinet filled with delicious treats, but you can also order some sandwiches or platters to take with you on your journey.

Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. On your journey inland, take the Great Alpine Highway, State Highway 73. Take in the view, enjoy the incredible Selwyn scenery, but please drive responsibly.

Just a bit further up the road, over the Waianiwaniwa River, you’ll find Homebush Stables. This heritage homestead is open by appointment only, and you’ll want to dedicate the time to explore this Category One heritage listed stables from the 1870s. This private museum holds a collection of vintage farming, mining, military, and sporting equipment, plus an original Dayton Ohio water turbine which is the only one known to be still in-situ in the world. Better still, Homebush Stables can take group bookings with catering options, so you can enjoy lunch before exploring the 8 acres of gardens.

Just past the small town of Coalgate and the Hororata Golf Club, your tour of Selwyn’s history continues in Glentunnel Museum. The stories of this region are entwined with land disputes, coal, farming, the railways, and interestingly, pottery. The museum is open on Sunday afternoons during daylight savings and because it is staffed entirely by knowledgeable volunteers, you’ll want to call ahead and let them know you’re coming.

Turn the car back inland, and you’ll soon swing alongside the mighty Rakaia River. You’ll be staying on its banks tonight at the luxury Fable Terrace Downs Resort. Each of their self-contained villas lie in the shadows of the picturesque Southern Alps. Enjoy mountain views from your private terrace or balcony and high country charm from this modern resort.

After a soak in the spa or a glass of local wine to shake off the dust from the road, The Clubhouse at Fable Terrace Downs is waiting to plate up a real taste of Selwyn. All of the dishes on their gourmet menu are put together using locally sourced ingredients. Whether you choose the eye fillet, lamb shoulder, pork belly or baked cauliflower, you’ll notice how each plate highlights and heroes the terroir of each main ingredient. Every mouthful and sip demands to be savoured.

Day 3 of 4

Windwhistle, Springfield

Middle Rock Farm

You’ll feel a spark in your step as you begin your morning with a trip up the road to the Coleridge Power Station. This hydroelectric facility at the meeting-place between Lake Coleridge and Rakaia River has been supplying power to Christchurch since 1914, expanding its network to most of Canterbury by the 1930s. While the grey, concrete building may not be much to look at, you’ll find historical exhibits from the power station’s past, plus the scenery of mountains, lake and river is simply incredible.

Coming back the way you came, stop off at Middle Rock Station for an immersive experience into life on a working high country farm. Depending on the time of year, you can be part of the sheep dog mustering, sheep handling, lamb feeding, or take in a shearing demonstration. Best of all, you’ll have some morning tea in the homestead kitchen before you head on your way.

Would you prefer to head to the mountains, or take a thrill-seeking ride along a river? Take Homestead Road and Lyndon Road alongside Acheron River into Torlesse Tussocklands Park, and you can make your decision once you reach the lookout on Lake Lyndon Reserve.

Turning left on State Highway 73 will take you towards Porter’s Lodge. A hive of activity all year round, whether you’re preparing to hit the ski slopes in winter or the mountain biking trails in summer. You simply cannot beat a hearty Porter’s Lodge burger, which are among the best in the region.

Now you’re all fueled up for adventure, you’re ready to tackle Kura Tāwhiti/Castle Hill. These majestic limestone rock formations were the set of the final major battle in the 2005 blockbuster movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This reserve is of great cultural significance to local iwi, Ngāi Tahu, as well as wider geological importance.

Just a bit further up State Highway 73 and you’ll arrive at Cass Station. Rita Angus’ 1936 painting of this historic train station is widely considered one of the iconic 20th Century New Zealand artworks.

Don’t feel like taking another walk in the great outdoors? Turn right onto State Highway 73 and allow the Great Alpine Highway to take you down into Springfield. After a quick photo with the famous Simpson’s Springfield Doughnut, you’ll be ready for lunch at Taste of Kiwi. Selwyn-famous for their range of house-made gourmet pies, you will not be disappointed with their range of fresh baking or cabinet food.

Your afternoon will be packed with action and excitement as you head back up the road to Alpine Jet Thrills – Canyon Safaris. Of course, you can experience heart-pumping action as you shoot along the Waimakariri River in a jet boat. You can also skim over the water just like the ‘gator huntin’ AirBoats in Florida’s Everglades - the only experience of it’s kind in New Zelaland. Inside the Jet Boat World museum you can see how pioneers like Bill Hamilton helped develop these incredible engines capable of operating in shallow waters. A true marine engineering marvel.

However you spend your afternoon, you will feel more than ready to relax for the evening once you reach Gunyah Country Estate. Stay in a luxury suite inside the grand historic homestead, or choose from one of Gunyah’s self-contained options in the country estate’s orchard.

Gunyah Country Estate was built in 1912 by the son of former New Zealand Prime Minister, Sir John Hall. Stepping through the front doors of Gunyah Country Lodge feels like stepping back in time, as this Heritage listing building still has all of its original, coloured Edwardian, handpainted wallpaper. Most of the light fittings and leadlight windows have been lovingly restored to their original condition. There aren’t many buildings left in New Zealand with these historic features, let alone a place where you can stay for the night and enjoy a grand meal.

Wherever you’re staying, dinner at Gunyah Country Estate is a not-to-be-missed occasion. Choose from a three or four-course dinner, and be sure to let the chef know of any dietary requirements. From there you can sit back, relax, and trust that expertly trained chefs will bring you delicious meals created from Selwyn’s bountiful, local fare.

You can even take a taste of Gunyah Country Estate home with you, in the form of their gourmet, heritage preserves. Made with produce from their own orchards and gardens, all of their sauces, mustards, chutneys, jams and relishes are made in-house using time-cherished traditional methods. Most definitely worth picking up some jars or bottles before you leave.

Day 4 of 4


Ballooning Canterbury

Make sure you get an early night, because you’ll need to be up early for today’s activity. Make your way to the outskirts of Hororata for your appointment with Ballooning Canterbury. Having driven around our wonderful Selwyn region, you’ll appreciate the bird’s-eye-view from a hot air balloon as the dawn breaks over the Southern Alps. As you reach heights of around 5000 feet, your balloonist and guide will share stories of the land, and farming over the Canterbury Plains. With your feet back on firm ground, you’ll be treated to a celebratory breakfast.

The Hororata Domain is home to World-Famous-In-Canterbury Hororata Highland Games, held each November. On the opposite side of the road, you’ll find the Old Hororata Hotel. This historic building at 15 Hororata Road has been converted into The Artist’s In - a pottery studio and artisan store intentionally misspelled so people don’t think it’s still a hotel. The brainchild of local potter Frank Hakkaart, The Artist’s In showcases a range of works from artists around Selwyn. Any pieces you find are virtually guaranteed to be unique conversation starters in your home.

It’s been a long day already, so you’ll be forgiven for having an extra coffee this morning. Pop in to the Hororata Village Bar & Café for a cuppa and a bite to eat. Is your treat of choice a sweet slice or a savoury sandwich? Either way, you won’t be disappointed by the selection in their cabinet. Before heading back into town, visit the Adams Arboretum. This historic farmstead was founded by Thomas William Adams, one of the first settlers in Greendale. He cultivated tree seedlings from around the world, and on his death in 1919, donated his section to become an arboretum or ‘tree museum.’

You’ve got the rest of the day ahead of you to make your way back to Christchurch, or plan your next amazing adventure around Selwyn.

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