Best bits, your only guide to a great holiday
Unwrap charming Geraldine. Delve into Geraldine’s flourishing arts scene and heritage buildings as you explore mid Canterbury attractions. Find an ideal place to explore the Inland scenic route 72. Take a break in Geraldine if you’re heading south towards the Mackenzie Country, Aoraki Mt Cook, Queenstown and the Southern Lakes.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Explore heritage pastoral homesteads and gardens
- Walk through native forests and reserves
- Soak up the atmosphere of a rural village with its cafes, galleries and Victorian era buildings
- Adrenaline adventures from rock canyoning, rafting white water river or horse trekking
Discover an ancient native bush named after the colonial premier, Sir Robert Peel (who incidentally established the modern police force in England). Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve: Places to go in Canterbury are managed by the Department of Conservation. There are several excellent walks for kids and families, a camping ground and waterfall. For serious trampers consider climbing the summit of Little Mt Peel (1311 metres) towering above the scenic reserve.
TIP: Big Tree Walk is a family favourite walk. There are large mataī, kahikatea and lowland tōtara along the track, some of which are thought to be 1000 years old. The largest tree, a huge lowland tōtara, is almost three metres across. Look out for the remains of a bush tramway route running alongside this track. At the top of the embankment you can see the original width of the tramway, marked by wooden edging.
- Length: 870 m
- Grade: Easy
Talbot Forest, a unique lowland podocarp forest, is a short stroll from the town centre. These short walks in and around Talbot Forest Scenic Reserve are ideal for families. There are four short walks through the forest which interconnect with roads around the reserve. Check the travel pack section for walks about and around Geraldine.
Take a walk in this area of native bush close to Geraldine which features remarkable rock pinnacles and limestone formations, historic sites, scenic views and is home to the rare long-tailed bat/pekapeka.
Wildlife, the birds most often seen at Kakahu include: wood pigeon/kererū, bellbird/koriomako, South Island tomtit/miromiro, brown creeper/pīpipi, fantail/pīwakawaka, kingfisher/kotare and pūkeko.
Rare long tailed bats/peka peka live in hollow trees and limestone crevices and only emerge at night.
“RIVERSIDE RHODODENDRONS AND NEW ZEALAND NATIVE BUSH”
Within 50 metres of the vicarage you will find the Geraldine Walkway, accessed via the Barker’s Foodstore & Eatery next door. Don’t miss this beautiful 30 minute walk along the Waihi River, through rhododendron dells and mature deciduous trees, to the North end of Talbot St. Then either return along Talbot St, or cross the road and immerse yourself for 15 minutes in the beautiful native bush of Talbot Forest (The Matai Walk).
Enormous pastoral leases for stations Mt Peel, Orari Gorge and Mesopotamia were the beginnings of farming in the district. The stations fostered the growth of Geraldine. These homesteads are now available to visit or stay in.
Continues to be farmed by the Acland family, the original settlers in the area. Significant heritage sites include
The Church of Holy Innocence
The building is constructed of Greywacke river stone from the Rangitata River and limestone from Mount Somers bought over by bullock dray. The interior has timber milled from the Peel Forest bush, mainly Black Pine, White Pine and Totara.
The garden is the home to heritage exotic trees originally planted in 1855. Oaks, Elms, Wellingtonians, Douglas Firs and Cedars are among some of the oldest exotic trees in South Canterbury. The garden is well known for the flowering of the Himalayan Lily – Cardiocrinum giganteum, that have naturalised underneath stands of oaks in the driveway and throughout the garden. Every second year the garden is open to the public to coincide with flowering of the lily, which has become known as the Mount Peel Lily Day.
Mt Peel station offers an awesome backcountry lodge nestled in a beautiful gully surrounded by native bush.
Mesopotamia Station is a family-run high country station running sheep, deer and cattle It is located in the high-country at the headwaters of the Rangitata Gorge at about 457 metres (1800 ft) above sea level rising to 2660 metres (7500 ft). Its size is just over 15, 000 acres and currently runs 11,000 merino sheep, 3000 deer and 500 cattle. Mesopotamia has concessions for a further 75,000 acres. It is an unspoiled piece of South Island welcoming visitors in the summer months. Mesopotamia Station offers opportunities for visitors through accommodation, helicopter flights, hunting and other tourism activities.
Getting to Mesopotamia
The ideal way to reach Mesopotamia is to take your time on the drive up the Rangitata gorge road, maybe stopping to picnic at the Te Wanahu flats at Peel Forest, or be catered for at the Peel Forest Cafe and Bar.
Four wheel drive
Or you can travel by 4WD vehicle with Alps2Ocean 4×4 New Zealand based in nearby Geraldine, who can take you directly to Mesopotamia or can incorporate it into one of their tours. Bookings can be arranged.
For those who want to fly in, all planes and helicopters are welcome. The airstrip is a flat grass strip 1km in length with tie-down spots. Gas is available if pre-arranged.
The coordinates for the airstrip are S 43° 38′ 44″, E 170° 54′ 02″
- Nearest town: Geraldine: 1 hr by car
- Nearest international airport: Christchurch
- Nearest small airstrip: Mesopotamia Station
Orari Gorge Station continues to be farmed. For people fascinated by rural high country farming check out youtube video
Peel Forest is the gateway to the Rangitata Valley adventure activities with Rafting Rangitata offers rafting grades 2 to 5. The tour operator has exclusive access to the Rangitata Gorge for all age groups and abilities.
Peel Forest Horse trekking describes the experience as an opportunity to experience life before the car and enter a relaxed age, trekking through some of the most gorgeous countryside in South Canterbury. The owners also operate Peel Forest Lodge and Peel Forest Safaris.
Canyoning is fun, you get to jump off a cliff into a surging waterfall and slide your way down the sheer rock faces. It is an action packed full day adventure tour from Geraldine or Lake Tekapo. Enjoying 4WD access through farmland gets you to the waters edge in style. Once in the streamway, you will navigate numerous jumps, slides, abseils and ziplines in the 5 hour round trip descent. Get the adrenaline pumping with the experienced guides.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Geraldine Historical Museumlearn more
Geraldine Vintage Car & Machinery Museumlearn more
Lillia's Lace Museumlearn more
Mcatamney Gallery & Design Storelearn more
Susan Badcock studiolearn more
The Mail Roomlearn more
The night sky with Geraldine Observatory – Explore the Night Sky with us. Is where the passion for the stars meets experience. The private observatory in the South Island and is operated by enthusiast Peter Aldous from his home observatory in Geraldine. He loves sharing his vast knowledge with small groups, so don’t for one minute think that you have to be in Lake Tekapo to see the night sky. But do book in advance (03 693 7337 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
GERALDINE MARKET DAY & SHOPPING
From October to April there is a weekly Saturday morning market. Shoppers get to savour and enjoy tastings of local foods including Barker’s of Geraldine drinks and preserves, Geraldine Cheese Co. (taste the world’s first deer milk cheese), Humdinger Gins and Waihi Bush Organic flax seed oils. The regular food producers include Talbot Forest Cheese who have a stall in the BerryBarn complex. Waihi Bush Organic Farms – Flax seed oils are marketed in the Country Rumours store. Barker’s Foodstore & Eatery is located in the highstreet.
The compact village is easily walkable with specialty shops ranging from New Zealand branded clothing, upcycled and reproduction design goods, delis stocking local specialists as well as a range of imported goodies, artisan and craft stores and the Geraldine Alpaca Centre with wool and alpaca garments.
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIE
- Waihi River; take the RiverWalk, through Rhododendron Dell in spring, truly romantic, gloriously pretty
- Go for a drive up the access road to Mt Hutt ski field to lookout signposted Canterbury View. Pull over for amazing views of the woven braided Rakaia River, the Canterbury Plains and, on a clear day, the coast. Summer is best for this activity
- Drive to Mesopotamia into the sub-alpine Southern Alps and the Rangitata River and majestic mountain ranges will soar into view
- Rare wildlife :Pekapeka, otherwise known as the long-tail bat in nearby forest
- The giant jersey (pullover, jumper) Machine knitted by machine knitted by Michael Linton and sewed together by wife Gillian to score a World Record. The jersey is on display in the town’s Visitor Centre.
- Michael spent 33 years making a life-sized mosaic copy of the Bayeux Tapestry out of steel knitting machine teeth. The mosaic is not currently displayed.
Nearby ‘next big things’ to see
- Rakaia’s enormous Salmon
- Gore’s Big Trout
- Geraldine’s Giant Jersey
WHAT TO DO WITH THE KIDS
- The river gorges of Te Moana and Orari have local favourite swimming holes
- The Farmyard Holiday Park, stay there or just visit; there are dozens of animals kids can actually play with. The farm has a holiday park with tent sites, private sheltered powered sites, furnished cabins and self-contained units. The park also features a TV lounge, games room, campers’ kitchen and dump station. We offer a safe and friendly environment for children to explore. We have a swimming pool, paddling pool, grass tennis court, marshmallow pit (light your own fire and cook your marshmallows). The key attraction are the animals from wallaby’s, donkeys, alpacas, llamas, goats, kune kune pigs, highland cattle, cows, sheep
WHAT MAKES THE PLACE TICK?
- Several industries originated in Geraldine from Barkers, jams, chutneys and fruit drinks and dairy processing, cheese manufacturing supporting the town. Tourism is of increasing importance.
WHAT TO DO NEARBY
- Swing a round of golf at the nearby golf course or Terrace Downs Resort
- Geraldine is a great base for winter sports at Mt Hutt or Mt Dobson
- Explore the MacKenzie country & Lake Tekapo. Approximately 1 hour drive from Geraldine
- Easy to find – hard to leave
- 2, 800 (2020)
- Private transport is ideal. The town is located on inland scenic route 72
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