Ashley George, near Oxford
– This is a great place for a wicked day out (don't tell too many people about it though)! It's a nice relaxing drive from Christchurch
to this awesome spot which is perfect for picnicking and especially for swimming. You can walk up the river for miles and keep finding more swimming holes, but one of the best places is right opposite the car park – lots of shallow pools and rapids for the little kids but nice deep holes with nearby rocks for the big kids to do huge bombs off! A must on the way home is stopping at Seager's café in Oxford or getting a massive ice cream (chocolate dipped!) at the local dairy. Plus, we always travel a different way home – through the Waimak George – for a change of scenery. Waihi George
– The gorge is in South Canterbury
, just before Geraldine, and it makes a neat day trek. I used to camp here as a kid at the DoC campground. It's pretty casual and there are no proper camp sites, just lovely lush green grassy areas for picnics and camping. You can walk for miles up the river to find all sorts of neat waterfalls and cool (freezing!) swimming holes. On the way there or home, call at Geraldine to check out Barkers (jams, pickles etc). The Groynes
– Close to home if we're short on time, this is a great playground for the kids, with cool walks to wear the little ones out too.
Hagley Park/Botanic Gardens
– I'm always blown away by this gem of a place in the central city. It has loads of things to see, a good swimming pool for the littlies and lovely picnic areas throughout. I love exploring the Harry Potter-like glasshouses and the amazing rose gardens.Orana Wildlife Park (Free gas barbecues)
– Pack a picnic and head to the local zoo for a fun day out. There are a few spacious picnic areas, with free gas barbecues, in a unique (wild) setting. You can see lions, tigers, giraffe, rhino, kiwi and cute lemurs all nearby the picnic place!