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Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Oxford best things to do

  • 6 minutes

Canterbury, South Island

Oxford there are plenty of things to do. Oxford is a stretched out village tucked into the foothills of the Southern Alps with numerous family short walks in the nearby reserves and forests. Farmland, pockets of native forest provide day trippers from Christchurch plenty of places to stretch your legs. The town is known for its Sunday market. As a weekend getaway for the Canterbury region the town has a number of eateries, gift shops, a local museum and gallery to interest visitors.

What to do, highlights in Oxford

  • Oxford Sunday Farmers market with over 25 stalls, live music and entertainment
  • Ashley Gorge River walks and swimming holes
  • Nearby Cust quirky shops



Interesting fact, NOTE


Show the kids the heritage restored jail (1875) complete with stocks to lock you in.​

Oxford Sunday Farmers market @oxfordfarmersmarketnz
Oxford Sunday Farmers market @oxfordfarmersmarketnz
@Oxford Museum NZ
@Oxford Museum NZ

Oxford Museum

The museum narrates the story of saw milling, the disappearance of the forests, the growth of sheep and dairy farming and the daily life of early European settlers. There is also a static display of vintage machinery

Oxford Forest Conservation Area

Oxford Forest Conservation Area covers an area of 11,350 hectares with tracks through the tawai/beech and scattered podocarp forests. Choose from day walks, overnight tramps or mountain biking (permitted on the Wharfedale Track only). Lighting of fires is prohibited during periods of extreme fire risk, and some areas or tracks may be closed.

Glentui (Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area)

Another popular recreational area offers visitors a variety of track options from easy walks through the native bush, to moderately steep climbing to the Mt Richardson summit where there are sweeping views of the Puketeraki Range and Lees Valley. Mountain biking is permitted on the Blowhard Track only. Horse riders also use the Blowhard Track so cyclists take care and watch for other track users.

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area @DOC / Ruth McKie
Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area @DOC / Ruth McKie

Oxford Town walks

Mears Track

Duration: Mears track is a 20 minute loop walk, 4km from Oxford township.

  • Location: From the Main Street, turn right into Mill Road, left into Bush Road on a bend and right into Crallans Drain Road (approx 3kms). There is a sealed car park approx 1km from the turnoff.
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Description of Walk: This stand of native bush is one of few near the Oxford township and is a QEII Covenant.

The track is clearly defined with native plants identified, and incorporates seating and a lookout.

Torlesse range, Castle Hill, New Zealand
Torlesse range

Oxford Rural Walk

  • Duration: Approx. 50 minutes.
  • Location: From Pearson Park, west along Main Street and turn right into Bay Road, turn left into Bush Road and continue until the intersection of Mill Road. Left into Mill Road to Main Street and continue until you reach the pedestrian crossing.
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Description of Walk: Enjoy the rural views, including horses, deer and ostriches. The Puketeraki Range is on your right and the Torlesse Range in front of you.

Eyre Walk

  • Duration: 45 minutes easy walk.
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Location: From Pearson Park, cross the pedestrian crossing, continue walking along the south side of Main Street and past the West Oxford Hotel. Turn left into Commercial Road and enjoy the view of Mt Torlesse and Browns Rock from the seat before you turn left at Burnt Hill Road. Turn right into Harewood Road, left into Matai Place and through the lane, left into Park Avenue where you can see the entrance of Pearson Park.
View along the TranzAlpine railway line heading west over the foothills and Torlesse Range, New Zealand
View along the railway line heading west over the foothills and Torlesse Range

Oak Walk

  • Duration: 50 minutes easy walk.
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Location: From Pearson Park, travel through the main entrance, follow the oval on the right hand side to the walkway through to Reids Lane. Turn right into Burnett Street and past the Oxford Town Hall, crossing at the pedestrian crossing. Turn right at the corner of High and Main Street and approx 800m on the left hand side is the entrance to Oak Plantation.
  • Meander under the trees, following the marked track, and enjoy the quiet English setting on the seats provided or have a picnic in the dappled light. Follow the fence line along the back where you will come to the Oxford Cemetery. Leave the cemetery through the High Street gate, turn right and return to Pearson Park.
  • Important Information: The walk through the oak trees is closed during lambing season, at high fire risk times and at the lessee’s discretion
The view from airplane of the snow-capped Southern Alps near Mt Oxford, on New Zealand`s South Island, New Zealand
The view from airplane of the snow-capped Southern Alps near Mt Oxford

Mountain View Walk

  • Duration: Approx 50 minutes
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Location: From Pearson Park, cross the pedestrian crossing and turn back to Park Avenue. Continue along Park Avenue until Harewood Road. Turn left and continue along Harewood Road where you will enjoy views of Big Ben, Puketeraki Range, the Port Hills and Browns Rock. A plane table, native planting and seating will allow you to enjoy the views. Turn left into High Street and continue to the intersection of High and Main Streets. Turn left and follow Main Street back to Pearson Park.

Oxford Millennium Lookout Walk

  • Duration: If you return the same way, approx 55 minutes.
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Location: From Pearson Park and walk through to Dohrmans Road. Right into Bay Road and cross over the intersection of Church Street and Bay Road and continue towards the foothills. At the top is the Oxford Millennium Lookout with views of the Port Hills. Browns Rock and some of the Canterbury Plains can be seen.

Lookout Walk

  • Duration: Approx 1hr 30mins
  • Intensity: Suitable for people of all abilities and fitness
  • Location: From Pearson Park to Oxford Millennium Lookout (as above). To make a longer and more interesting walk, continue along Sales Road, turn right Powells Road, right into Barracks Road, left Burnett Street off Church Street and back into Pearson Park off Reids Lane.

Every Sunday 9 am till 12 noon.

What to do with kids in Oxford

  • Kowhai Farm Horse Riding School offers riding lessons, trekking tours and farmstays
  • Never tried camping, then Ashley Gorge Holiday Park is a great place to find your camping vibe.
  • Oxford has an outdoor swimming pool open in summer
  • Oxford Movies, The Oxford Benevolent & Improvement League presents Oxford Movies at the Town Hall. Check out “Oxford Movies” Facebook page for details.
Kowhai Farm Horse Riding School @kowhairidingschool
Kowhai Farm Horse Riding School @kowhairidingschool

Astronomy has long been associated with the central South Island. The dark, clear skies, away from the main cities, are ideal for observing the stars. Oxford Area School runs an observatory for its science classes and the wider community. It houses a Meade 10-inch Schmidt Cassegrain astronomical telescope


What to do nearby Oxford

  • Rangiora’s boutique movie theatre is great at all times and especially on a wet day.
  • Find some treasures in Cust at antique shop Done and Dusted and the enchanted little retailer Away with the Fairys.
  • ASHLEY GORGE RIVER, The Ashley Gorge River beneath the bridge has clear water and deep swimming holes. Nearby is the Ashley Gorge Holiday Park with its inspired holiday pods situated in a secluded hidden nook of the camp & surrounded by native bush or go glamping next to the river. The camp’s position is the perfect outdoor getaway with short walks such as from the top end of the Birch Flat picnic area there is a short walk to a lookout up the Gorge. Don’t forget to check out the Giants Walk while you are up there and discover the giant Redwoods. See travel pack information for a link to check out water quality.
  • Ribblesdale Gardens, a classic English style country garden, tours and visits by arrangement.

Oxford slogan

Best little town in New Zealand.

Oxford population


Weather in Oxford

Canterbury Weather Updates

At 262 metres & in the foothills of the Southern Alps Oxford can be nippy. Carry layers even on a warm summer day.

What to do nearby Oxford, Canterbury?

Oxford is nearby RangioraAmberley and Springfield (selfie heaven with its massive concrete pink doughnut).

Back of the Plough after painting @Oxford Museum NZ
Back of the Plough after painting @Oxford Museum NZ

Who turned up and named Oxford

Te Arara is a comprehensive online resource, a library of interesting facts, details and anecdotes that are amusing. The Oxford section describes, “Oxford is a town 33 km west of Rangiora, with a 2013 population of 1,905. Close to once-forested foothills, Oxford started in the early 1850s as a sawmilling town. In the 1870s, 11 mills were operating. A major fire in 1898 curtailed milling and the last mill closed in 1912. The town survived as a rural service and retirement centre. Crawford and Gwen Somerset did pioneering social research there in the 1930s, referring to it as ‘Littledene’.


Whipping up a treat

Littledene, a study published in 1938, discusses the importance of food and baking in country towns at the time: ‘The farm wife takes a pint of cream, six eggs and the spur of the moment while the meat and potatoes are cooking – and lo! – a cream-sponge-cake six inches high, with two inches of whipped cream in its depth. The cookery section of the Littledene Agricultural and Pastoral Show is like a confectioner’s heaven.’


Want to go camping in Oxford check out 9 Hurunui campsites & budget accommodation ideas.




Check out our favourite instagram posts for Oxford

Travel pack information

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about what to do nearby Oxford check out Things To Do In Canterbury § Places to Visit, Activities & Sightseeing nearby attractions and events.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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