Winter Family Fun

4 Days

Selwyn can be a winter wonderland! Make sure you’re wrapped up warm because you’ll find plenty of adventures to entertain the family.

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Day 1 of 4

Christchurch, West Melton, Springfield, Castle Hill

Porters Lodge

No adventure should start on an empty stomach. Make your way to Langdale Vineyard Restaurant and take a seat overlooking their beautiful sheltered garden. You’ll find many middle eastern-inspired platters, plus kids menu options to keep everyone happy. If you’re not driving, take in a tasting selection of local Selwyn wines. Bookings are essential at Langdale, so be sure to call ahead. 

Alternatively, if you would like a cozy, indoor setting with hearty meals, try Two Fat Possums in West Melton. From steak, gourmet burgers, pizza, and truly creative salads, we promise you won’t leave feeling hungry.

Have you packed everything you need for the slopes? If you want to get sorted before you arrive at the mountain, pop into Gnomes for all of your skiing and snowboarding gear. You can hire the equipment you need, or treat yourself to some new kit.

Continue up State Highway 73. You’ll find yourself at Rubicon Valley Horse Treks. Explore a Selwyn high country sheep farm on horseback, led by experienced guides like Chris, discovering stunning landscapes around every corner.

On your return to the main highway, double back to Springfield. No trip to Springfield is complete without stopping for a photo at the Springfield Donut, gifted to the town to honour their shared name with the hometown of cartoon family The Simpsons.

With plenty of opportunities to stop for a photo on your way up the mountains, be sure to stop at the Porters Pass viewpoint, and the lookout on the shores of Lake Lyndon. Eventually, you’ll reach Porters Lodge, your destination for the night. After checking in and a walk in the brisk mountain air, you’ll be about ready for dinner.

Porters Lodge serve some of the best burgers in the whole South Island, plus they have Canterbury’s best craft beers on tap. Beef, chicken, fish, and veggie burgers all come with a side salad and hot chips. Not a burger fan? Try their tacos, or Bacon Caesar Salad. Round off your night with a chocolate brownie or a slice of banoffee pie for dessert, before heading back to your room for the night. You’ve got a big day ahead of you.

Day 2 of 4

Castle Hill, Arthurs Pass

Castle Hill with Bus

Are you ready to hit the slopes? Porters Alpine Resort can sort you out with a day pass, your ski and snowboard hire, and even a lesson if it’s been a while since you were last on a mountain. Beginners will find plenty of gentle runs designed to acclimate you to the alps, while experienced skiers and snowboarders will be challenged on their advanced trails.

Return your gear and take in a late lunch at Porters Lodge before heading up the road to Kura Tāwhiti Conservation area. This stunning national park may be familiar to you from the 2005 blockbuster movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The distinctive limestone rock formations are popular with rock climbers and make for stunning scenery along this Department of Conservation short walk. Also known as Castle Hill, this area holds deep cultural significance for local Ngai Tahu, so please treat it with respect.

Continue north to where the Waimakariri River meets the Bealey River. You’re nearing the edge of Selwyn’s border with the West Coast, and you have a choice of where to rest your head. If you like stylish accommodation in the heart of a working farm, The Wilderness Lodge offers spectacular mountain views from every window. For couples, their Alpine Lodges provide an isolated escape where you can recline in a spa bath and gaze out at the alps. Better for families are the Mountain View rooms inside the main hotel building, which can be made interconnecting for larger groups. Relax in the height of luxury before sitting down for a celebration of local fare at The Mount Rolleston Restaurant. The menu here changes regularly, favouring what’s in season and freshly available.

Just a bit further up the road is the Bealey Hotel. They have a range of four-star villas, studios, and backpacker accommodation options for individuals, families, and large groups. With Netflix and streaming services available in the rooms, you can find something to entertain everyone and unwind after a big day. When you’re ready to eat, head to the on-site Craft Moa Restaurant and Bar. Offering a relaxed style fare of kids meals, pizza, burgers, steaks, and salads, the team at The Bealey believe food should be an experience.

Day 3 of 4

Arthurs Pass, Castle Hill, Mount Cheeseman

Cheeseman 1900px x 1000px

After breakfast, if you’re up for one of the best walks in all of the South Island, take a quick trip up to the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall. The well-formed 2km path is considered easy, and at a brisk pace should only take you between 45 minutes and an hour return. The views, spray, and noise from the 131-metre-high waterfall make the excursion more than worthwhile.

Take State Highway 73 south, back the way you’ve come. As soon as you cross Broken River, hang a right onto Mount Cheeseman Ski Field Road and continue your way to the top of the mountain. Mount Cheeseman is another family friendly ski field. Children under 10 years old ski for free! Plus, you can pick up where you left off with another ski or snowboarding lesson to maintain your skills.

Take a break from your morning on the slopes at the Mount Cheeseman Day Lodge. The wraparound deck overlooks the beginners’ slopes, so you can relax with a coffee if the kids want to keep going. With Cockayne Cafe inside the Day Lodge, you don’t have to go far to find a delicious hot lunch, to refuel you for the afternoon.

Fancy some variety? Of course, you can go back to the ski slopes. Or, you can head down the mountain towards Forest Lodge where you’ll find an ice skating rink. Rent some skates, and spend an afternoon gliding about on the ice.

When you’re ready to relax for the evening, your room is right next to the rink. Put your feet up and take in the winter mountain scenery from the Forest Lodge lounge. This hostel is off-grid relying largely on solar power and generators for backup electricity. Forest Lodge has self-catering kitchens, so make sure you’ve packed some food for dinner and breakfast for tomorrow, as there are no takeaway options around Castle Hill.

After dinner, rug up warm and head out to the balcony. There is so little light pollution around Castle Hill, and Forest Lodge sits at 900m above sea level. On clear nights, you’ll have an incredible view of the stars, Milky Way, and the wider universe. Serious night-time photographers will need a tripod to capture those stunning starry shots.

Day 4 of 4

Mount Cheeseman, Christchurch

Great Alpine Sequence 11

What an adventure. Time to pack up the car, and jump back on State Highway 73 which will take you back through to Christchurch.

Be sure to stop off at Darfield for lunch. One option is the Darfield Bakery, which is known Selwyn-wide for the range of gourmet, housemade pies and sausage rolls that are sure to warm you up.

If you’d prefer more of a sit-down meal over your classic bakery fare, then you’re sure to love The Fat Beagle Café. They can cater to your dietary requirements, including a number of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options.

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