Selwyn's Great Alpine Highway

2 Days

Explore the Great Alpine Highway. Travel across the Canterbury Plains, past stunning alpine vistas, lakes and rivers into Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Day 1 of 2

Kirwee, Springfield, Porters

Ballooning Canterbury

So the twists and turns of the Great Alpine Highway have brought you to the great region of Selwyn? Let’s kick off your adventure at sunrise by seeing beautiful Selwyn not by car or foot, but by sky. Ballooning Canterbury is an exhilarating experience that takes you up higher and higher until an epic view of rolling hills, rivers, mountains, and even the Pacific Ocean is laid out before you. Considered one of the best ballooning and gliding areas in the world, the uniqueness of the location allows flyers to cruise for up to 2,000km around the mountains in one day.

After taking in the grandeur of Selwyn, you’ll probably be famished and a tad tired. Head to Darfield Bakery for a coffee pick-me-up, delicious pastries, sandwiches, and rolls while recounting the “ups and downs” of the ballooning experience. 

Then, if you’re looking for an array of unique attractions, the Springfield Adventure Park is the place to be. Experience the thrill of jet boating, go laser clay bird shooting with friends, rip down the best dirt and quad biking trail in the South Island, or you can even wrangle sheep. Plenty of options to choose from, each a whole new type of fun. 

While you’re in Springfield, especially if you’re a Simpsons fan, you have to stop by the Springfield Donut! Initially given to the town for a six-week marketing stunt for The Simpsons Movie, the length of its placement was deliberated on. The original caught on fire and was replaced with a pink tractor tire before finally being reborn as the concrete masterpiece that stands there today. Take a picture with it so you can be a part of its quirky history. 

If it’s getting late, a fun place to settle into that transitions perfectly into your next day of adventure is Porter’s Lodge. Enjoy a friendly, relaxed atmosphere to refresh yourself so you can attack the next day with renewed energy. 

Day 2 of 2

Porters, Arthurs Pass

SDC Arthurs pass etc  121

Now that you’re at Porters, it’s time for some good old-fashioned mountain fun. If you’re traveling in the winter months, that means carving up the snowy slopes. For summer months, Porters boasts amazing backcountry trails that are perfect for mountain biking. 

After you’ve worked up a sweat on the mountain trails (or if you’re feeling a bit cooped up from driving), stop by one of Selwyn’s hidden gems—Lake Pearson. A glacial lake, this pristine oasis surrounded by the Southern Alps is one of Selwyn’s most picturesque spots. Unwind in the majestic scenery and if you’re feeling brave, test out the glacial temperatures and enjoy a refreshing swim. Otherwise, pack your paddle board and fishing rod to enjoy the views without getting wet! 

For even more of Selwyn’s natural beauty, carry on up the road to Arthurs Pass and enjoy a pleasant walk to Devil’s Punchbowl where you can find a 131-metre waterfall with a 150-metre high platform at the base to take it all in. Recognised by the Department of Conservation as one of the best short walks in the country, this is a perfect pitstop for your trip. But if you’re in a hurry and can’t swing a hike, stop by Avalanche Creek Waterfall instead. You’ll be able to reach the falls, enjoy the sights, and get back within 15 minutes.  

To fuel up for your walk to Devil’s Punchbowl or if you need some energy after it, make sure you stop by Arthur’s Pass Cafe and Store. This cute and rustic cafe will have what you need for your journey ahead. 

Beyond this list, you can find a great many things to do in Selwyn as you travel down the Great Alpine Highway. Head back East to Christchurch or keep exploring as you head to the West Coast, where you can stroll along Hokitika Beach or visit the 30 million-year-old Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and look out at the breathtaking views of the Western coastline. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have time to take it all in!