What to Do in Ashburton: New Zealand’s Granary
A bustling town with rural friendliness, Ashburton is nicknamed “New Zealand’s granary”. It’s a great base for exploring the Canterbury Plains and experience New Zealand country living or just easy to pop into with its ideal location on State Highway 1. Ashburton is just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch making it the perfect pitstop to check out the unique shopping centres, the picturesque parks, lakes or even throw in a skydive if you really want to. See what is possible with this list of things to do in Ashburton.
1. Spend the Day at Lake Hood
On the outskirts of Ashburton, Lake Hood is a popular go-to for the locals and well worth checking out to see how Kiwis spend their time out. The lake is ideal for swimming, boating, yachting and waterskiing. But if you don’t have the gear yourself, it’s always fun to sit at one of the lakefront cafes and watch the world go by.
Location: Lake Hood Drive, 10km (6 miles) south of Ashburton
2. Take a Stroll Through the Ashburton Domain
Wander around the gardens, lakes and sports fields of the Ashburton Domain. There’s always something going on here, whether it’s a sporting event, wedding or a community event, so it’s worth stopping by. Meander along the walkways through a mix of native and exotic plantings, feed the ducks and just enjoy this beautiful environment.
Location: Access off State Highway 1, Walnut Avenue, Park Street and more.
3. Visit the Ashburton Art Gallery & Heritage Centre
Discover Ashburton’s past and present in this well-appointed modern facility. The Ashburton Art Gallery & Heritage Centre has a creative display of permanent and temporary art exhibitions, as well as a museum displaying artefacts that were significant to the district’s development.
Location: 327 West Street
4. Check Out the Ashburton Aviation Museum
Another museum well worth checking out is the Ashburton Aviation Museum. The town has a strong heritage in aviation, as it was a training base in World War Two. There are more than 20 aircraft on display, with a large number of classic jets and the impressive Falklands Vet GR3 Harrier Jump Jet. There is a small admission fee. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday.
Location: Ashburton Airport, Seafield Road
5. Go Shopping at Ashford Village
Ashburton is a great go-to for shopping and stocking up with all the essentials for the road, but if you’re looking for an alternative shopping experience, set your sights on Ashford Village. This unique shopping centre is based in and around a historic mill house surrounded by attractive gardens. There are a couple of great little craft and gift shops, a cafe and some services like a hair salon. You can also check out an old spinning wheel and loom on display too.
Location: 427 West Street
6. Treat Yourself at a Local Cafe or Bar
Sometimes, you only have time to pop in for a coffee, and Ashburton would be a great place to do that! There’s something to suit every mood and taste, from a casual coffee in Cafe Time or Taste Cafe to a refreshing New Zealand-brewed pint at the Speight’s Ale House.
Location: Cafe Time – Main Road, Tinwald, Taste Cafe – 146 Willis Street, Speight’s – Corner of Burnett & Cass Streets
7. Go for a Swim, Steam or Soak at the EA Networks Centre
Ashburton’s local swimming pool isn’t just a place to get fit but a place to enjoy a variety of watery fun. The contemporary aquatic centre features several pools, a spa and a steam room. Enjoy the soothing temperatures (34ºC/93ºF) of the hydrotherapy pool, take a ride down the lazy river in the leisure pool, have a splash with the little ones in the toddler pool, and finish it all off by drying your togs in the changing rooms’ “swimwear spinners”!
Location: 20 River Terrace
[UPDATE] Skydive Over the Canterbury Plains
[Update: Skydiving Kiwis have moved to Sumner Beach in Christchurch]
Take the leap between the stunning Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean with Skydiving Kiwis. Experience freefalling at 200km/h (124mph) in this adrenaline-pumping activity like no other. Your tandem master will keep you safe, so all you have to do is enjoy this crazy ride. Compare this skydive with others in 12 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.
More Things to Do Near Ashburton
- 10 Amazing Things to Do in Methven
- 10 Underrated Places to Visit in Canterbury
- The Best Campervan Rental Companies in Christchurch
That’s it for the best things to do in Ashburton. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.