Dusky dolphins can be seen on Kaikoura day tour from Christchurch


Private Guided day tours from Christchurch


Bring your Christchurch visit to life with a private guided custom tour with your own personal tour guide.  Group size from 1 to 11. 


Enjoy a relaxing day out, seeing some of New Zealand's best scenery in destinations as diverse as Akaroa, Arthur's Pass, Kaikoura and Mt Cook - while gaining understanding and insights into Christchurch, Canterbury and New Zealand in general.  Enjoy more roadside stops and photo opportunities, or take optional short walks.


Your private guide is Terry Thomsen.  Read about Terry here.   

 Lyttelton Harbour from Port Hills near Christchurch

  • 'Terry is an exceptional guide.  We would recommend him and his tours to anyone.  He makes the entire journey relaxing and memorable.'   Angie, Melbourne

  • This was a great tour, it was a great mix of geology, history, culture and gave us a great feeling for how "kiwis" live.  This was a highlight of our time in New Zealand'  Jeanne, USA



Click on these suggested private day tours from Christchurch, or just scroll down:


(Note - if you prefer non-exclusive small group tours, visit the Day Tours page)






ReStart Container mall in central ChristchurchChristchurch has many charms.  Among them: 

  • The attractive city centre, with its stone buildings (including the Arts Centre and museum), lovely public gardens and the meandering Avon river;

  • The sandy beaches and estuary, set among high headlands of volcanic rock; 

  • Christchurch's historic port town of Lyttelton, a mix of working port town and trendy cafes; 

  • The Port Hills, the eroding rim of an extinct volcano.  They have great views across Christchurch, but even more dramatic views in the other direction, across Lyttelton harbour.

Interwoven into the tour, you will learn about the landscapes, nature, history and culture that together make the city of Christchurch what it is today.   The Inside Story's private custom day tour of Christchurch city and surrounds will open your eyes to this fascinating corner of New Zealand.

Note that, as a private tour, you may request to have the itinerary modified to include attractions such as Christchurch's International Antarctic Centre (with its live penguin enclosure).



Indicative prices (7 hour tour):


Group Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 - 11
Price per person ($NZ) $530 $290 $210 $170 $140 Please enquire


Prices do not include lunch.


Central Christchurch private walking tours are also available, from $60 per hour for 1 to 4 people (divide by number of people for a per person rate).  Minimum of two hours.  For larger groups, please enquire for rates.


Enquire about a private guided Christchurch tour





Many visitors who have explored elsewhere in New Zealand's South Island are surprised by the beauty of Banks Peninsula.  Long-extinct basaltic volcanoes have eroded away, leaving a network of high craggy hills, deep valleys and long, lonely bays which were the scene of some of Canterbury's earliest and most eventful Maori and European settlement.

Akaroa Harbour view on Akaroa tour from Christchurch

A day spent gently meandering around Banks Peninsula gives you time to:

  • Take the high Summit Road, with expansive views of Akaroa Harbour and the outer bays.

  • Visit a beautiful remote bay for a waterfront picnic.

  • Spend time strolling around Akaroa, founded by the French, and one of New Zealand's most charming seaside towns.

  • Optionally take an Akaroa Harbour nature cruise with a good chance of viewing rare Hector's dolphins. Alternatively take a relaxing hands-on sailing cruise on a 14-metre 'A-Class' yacht. 

  • Optionally visit one or two fine private gardens with a distinctive New Zealand flavour. 
  • Optionally take a guided nature walk in a remnant of the great forests that once covered the peninsula.


Indicative prices (9 hour tour):


Group Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 - 11
Price per person ($NZ) $600 $340 $240 $190 $160 Please enquire


Prices do not include optional harbour cruise or lunch


Enquire about a private guided Akaroa tour





National Park entrance on Arthurs Pass tourArthur's Pass National Park is in the heart of the best mountain scenery easily accessible on a day tour from Christchurch.

The Southern Alps are New Zealand's greatest mountain range.  On this tour, you will visit this dynamic mountain chain with its snow-clad peaks, mountain streams, broad shingly rivers, pretty subalpine lakes and large limestone outcrops. 

You will see the visible effects of rapid mountain uplift and ice age glaciations, and can walk in the native 'southern beech' forest and the tussock grasslands.  You will learn about the early human history in an often inhospitable landscape.  You have a good chance of seeing a kea, New Zealand's mischievous mountain parrot.

The tour includes a number of stops where you can enjoy the remote, silent and unspoilt expanses of the South Island's high country. 

Incorporating an optional one-way ride on the renowned TranzAlpine train through the Waimakariri River gorge to Arthur's Pass will give you a rewarding round trip.  NOTE that a return trip solely on the TranzAlpine train omits some of the best scenery in the area including the crossing of Arthur's Pass and the Otira Gorge.  If you would like to take the train, then a tour encompassing both road and rail options is recommended.


Indicative prices (9-10 hour tour):


Group Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 - 11
Price per person ($NZ) $700 $400 $280 $220 $180 Please enquire


Prices do not include optional Tranz Alpine train ride or lunch.


Enquire about a private guided Arthur's Pass tour



(4)  KAIKOURA Tour


Dolphin cruise departing Kaikoura on day tour from ChristchurchThe small town of Kaikoura, sandwiched between sea and mountains, is a pretty destination in its own right.   However its true wonders lie offshore, in the waters that lie over the southern end of the deep Hikurangi Trench.  The nutrient-laden waters support a myriad of life:  fish, seals, dolphins, sea birds and mighty sperm whales.

This is the only place in New Zealand where you can go whale-watching.   Alternatively take a sea bird tour to get close to large albatrosses, mollymawks, petrels and shearwaters.  Active visitors may like to go swimming with dolphins (or simply dolphin watch) or seals - on a good day, this is absolutely memorable.

Kaikoura is a two and a half hours drive north from Christchurch, and is within easy reach on a one day tour.  On the way, you pass through the Waipara wine region, the rolling hills of north Canterbury and finally the beautiful coastal drive that hugs the rocky shoreline south of Kaikoura.


Indicative prices (10-11 hour tour):


Group Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 - 11
Price per person ($NZ) $700 $400 $280 $220 $180 Please enquire



Prices do not include whale watching and other cruises, or lunch.


Enquire about a private guided day tour to Kaikoura





Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on tour from ChristchurchThe patterned limestone rock formations at Punakaiki are pounded by waves off the Tasman Sea, causing blowholes and surge pools.  This is one of the West Coast's top attractions, and is at its most spectacular in rough weather.

This is a long but rewarding day, enabling you to visit an amazingly wide range of scenery in a single day, in traversing the South Island from east to west.  We drive through the mountain scenery of Arthur's Pass (see Arthur's Pass tour above), and descend to the lush rainforests of the West Coast.  The last section of the journey is one of New Zealand's most dramatic coastal highways.


Indicative prices (12-13 hour tour):


Group Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 - 11
Price per person ($NZ) $800 $440 $310 $240 $200 Please enquire


Prices do not include lunch


Enquire about a private guided Punakaiki tour




(6)  TEKAPO and MT COOK Tour


Mt Cook seen on day tour from ChristchurchIf you want to get among New Zealand's highest mountains, and view the fascinating milky blue lakes of the central South Island's MacKenzie Basin, then take a one day tour from Christchurch to Tekapo and Mt Cook Village (and return) - you should allow 12 hours at least for the tour.

At Tekapo, you can visit the much-photographed Church of the Good Shepherd, set by the lake shore, and enjoy a panoramic view of lakes and mountains from Mt John.  At Mt Cook Village, you may take a short walk to a glacial terminal lake or alternatively take a scenic flight or helicopter ride over the Southern Alps.


Indicative prices (12-13 hour tour):


Group Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 - 11
Price per person ($NZ) $800 $440 $310 $240 $200 Please enquire


Prices do not include lunch 


Enquire about a private guided Tekapo and Mt Cook tour





Hanmer Springs day tour from ChristchurchVisit the pretty sub-alpine village of  Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury.  You can take a dip in the attractively-landscaped hot springs (the South Island's largest thermal pool complex), get pampered in the spa, or enjoy some of the activities in the area, such as horse riding, jet boating or quad biking.
Minimum tour length is 6 hours. 

Please enquire about prices, which depend on how long you wish to spend at Hanmer Springs.   






Just under an hour north of central Christchurch is the Waipara wine region.  You may take a wine tour to Waipara, visiting several wineries, with lunch at one of New Zealand's most renowned winery restaurants (minimum tour length is 4 hours).  Please enquire about prices.

A visit to one or two Waipara wineries may be combined with the Hanmer Springs tour.   




Enquire about any private guided day tour







If you are reasonably fit, you may like to take a hike among the mountains near Arthur's Pass National Park.  The drive to the hike is interesting in its own right, passing through plenty of alpine scenery, along with subalpine lakes and limestone formations.  The track itself climbs through mountain beech forest, to a point with expansive views across to the Southern Alps.    




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