Plan a family outdoor adventure this winter

It’s easy to feel trapped indoors by winter. Cold weather and short days makes planning outdoor family activities more of a challenge than it was during the summer months. But have no fear—there are many places to go and things to do this winter in and around Christchurch.

In this article, Christchurch-based DOC ranger Cheryl Close suggests a few ideas to help keep your family active, happy, healthy and outside this season.

In the city
Take it easy for your family’s first outdoor day of the winter season and visit Riccarton Bush in Christchurch. Just a short drive or bike ride from the city centre, Riccarton Bush features the only remaining old-growth forest in the area with kahikatea trees more than 600 years old! This predator-free environment is rich in bird-life and you’ll hear some wonderful choruses as you explore the forest.

To get your kids excited about their day out, introduce them to Toyota Kiwi Guardians where they can earn badges for exploring nature and engaging in conservation activities. Riccarton Bush is just one of four Kiwi Guardian sites in Christchurch, so make sure to check out the other three as well by visiting www.doc.govt.nz/kiwiguardians.

An hour’s drive away
Just an hour north-west of Christchurch, Mount Thomas Forest is the city’s closest and most accessible beech forest. The picnic and camping area at Wooded Gulley is a lovely, open spot to get away from the city – plenty of room to kick a ball around or climb a tree. From here, the family-friendly tracks range from a 1-hour loop track to a 2 to 3-hour hike to the top of the Mt Thomas to stunning views on those classic still winter days that Canterbury can sometimes turn on. An added bonus of visiting Mount Thomas over winter is escaping the summer-time wasps. For young families, I’d recommend Kereru Track – so named because you are almost guaranteed to spot one.

Make a weekend of it
Looking for something a little more challenging? A trip to Woolshed Creek Hut in Mid Canterbury offers families an accessible overnight winter excursion from the Christchurch area. This modern 26-bunk, serviced hut is situated in beautiful tussock landscape on the Mount Somers Track, and is a 3-4 hr (5km) walk from the Woolshed Creek car park. As you make your way to the hut, you will have fantastic views of upper Ashburton Gorge and pass alongside the old Blackburn Mine. An area rich in history and native flora, we think you should definitely put Woolshed Creek on your list of winter family adventures this year!

It’s a good idea to check in with a DOC visitor centre or online for safety information beforehand, particularly over the cooler months. Keep an eye on the weather and take plenty of warm waterproof clothing, suitable footwear and provisions for your trips.

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the neat things you can do to keep your family active this winter. Check out www.doc.govt.nz for information on these opportunities and loads of others in your local area and beyond. Enjoy!

Want to plan a getaway for your family? We’ve got you covered with our family getaways section.