7 Awesome Things to Do in Ashburton© ChristchurchNZ
7 Awesome Things to Do in Ashburton

7 Best Things to Do in Ashburton

© ChristchurchNZ
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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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.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in the 5 Methven Must-Dos and 10 Christchurch Must-Dos.

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

Pxhere© Pxhere

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.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

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

itravelNZ on Flickr© itravelNZ on Flickr

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

Ben on Flickr© Ben on Flickr

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

Pixabay © Pixabay

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

MaxPixel© MaxPixel

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

6 Awesome Things to Do in Ashburton© Pixabay

[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.

ChristchurchNZ© ChristchurchNZ

More Things to Do Near Ashburton

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.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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