At Christchurch Airport we believe the South Island is the best place in the world - the best place to live, visit and do business.

We want it to prosper, so we unashamedly champion the South Island every chance we get… such as in this winter edition of our seasonal magazine "Gateway South". Here, you'll get a glimpse of some of the many attractions and activities across this special island, the place we call home and love to welcome new people to… as well as some of the places you can get to if you fly out of here.




Mt Hutt is gearing up for another award-winning season, with another trophy on the mantelpiece, increased skiable area and improved snowmaking. 

The skifield near Methven was recently voted New Zealand's best ski resort 2016, a year after winning the 2015 award. 

Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager James McKenzie says the back-to-back wins are significant because voters had to register to vote and were each allowed only one vote.

"We are one big adventure - a big mountain with wide groomed slopes, all-lift access for all abilities, top to bottom terrain parks with world class jumps," he says. "It's Canterbury's playground, with a friendly vibe, great customer service and excellent facilities."

Families love Mt Hutt because kids ski free. Tourism operators in Methven offer accommodation, dining and activity options for children aged 10 and under, free of charge with an adult. This includes the skifield, where children 10 and under get a free lift pass every day of the season. 

James is promising an even bigger experience at Mt Hutt this winter. He says the skiable terrain has been increased by 21 hectares, through extending the South West face. 

New automated snow guns and modified terrain at the upper mountain will also boost snow coverage on the higher runs and new gear means it'll last longer. 

"We are one of the highest ski areas in New Zealand, with an altitude of 2,086m, so add the automated snow as a bonus on top of great natural snow," he says.  

There's a lot to like. Mt Hutt has an annual four-metre snow fall to give one of the longest snow seasons in New Zealand. Plus the longest vertical drop in the South Island, the spectacular views across the Canterbury Plains - Pacific Ocean on one side and the heart of the Southern Alps on the other - and extensive terrain for all abilities, including four freestyle parks. 

All this plus a big calendar of events, including the Mt Hutt Slope Style competition on August 5 and 6 where up-and-coming freestylers defy gravity and make onlookers gasp; and the famous Peak to Pub race for multi-sporters on September 23.




Fiji has long been a South Island family favourite for mid-year holidays, and these days grandparents are joining the fun.

Melissa Landrebe, Managing Director at YOU Travel in Ferrymead, says many people consider Fiji the perfect spot for a winter warm-up and that extends to three generations. "Our clients tell us Fiji is their winter go-to destination, because it's one easy flight from Christchurch and all members of the family find favourite things to do to warm up and relax," she says.

"Families with small children find one flight from Christchurch easy and also say Fiji is an easy destination to holiday in. Everyone is catered for, the weather is settled and the many accommodation options work for every budget.

"Over the past couple of years, we have noticed what have become known as Generation Holidays, where three generations holiday together. We see the adults come home relaxed after a family holiday, as well as adult time while the children had fun with new Fijian friends. Fijians adore children and are caring, safe and cheap babysitters, so everyone wins."

Melissa says most South Islanders stay in Fiji for at least seven nights, with some staying a few more days to divide their time between the mainland and outer islands.

"The outer islands offer that true remote tropical island experience, with beaches replacing pools and very high quality foodie experiences on offer too.

"Day trips from the mainland to the islands are popular, especially for family groups with teenagers who love "Cloud 9", a floating bar and watersport haven in the middle of the ocean - with its own wood-fired pizza oven."

Fiji Airways flies direct from Christchurch to Fiji three times a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with a flight time of four hours. Air New Zealand also offers direct flights from Christchurch between July and October.

Be in to win 1 of 3 trips to Fiji!
Find out how:



Christchurch Airport and Alibaba, the world's largest retail commerce company, have agreed to work together to connect small regional businesses with Chinese visitors before, during and after they visit. Chinese travellers will be able to use Alibaba Group apps to plan their visit, shop while they' re here, then order more local goods when they return home. More than 443 million Chinese used the apps to buy goods and services last year, so New Zealand SMEs are keen to offer their products into that shopping mix.


Asia's largest airline has joined the University of Canterbury in a new partnership which will benefit Tekapo and the Mackenzie District. Christchurch Airport facilitated the signing of an agreement announcing China Southern Airlines as an official partner of the University's Mt John Observatory. This partnership also supports tourism in Tekapo, with 10 per cent of the agreement's funding provided to the Mackenzie District Council for tourism infrastructure in Tekapo.


The 'Ultimate Day Out with Richie' turned into a memorable day for the Burgess family, which won a promotion run by Christchurch Airport and Christchurch Helicopters. Karen Burgess entered the draw by buying breakfast, and so spending the minimum $15 to qualify, in the terminal on her way to Fiji. A few weeks later, she learned she and three guests (husband and two teenage sons) had won the chance to fly by helicopter, piloted by Richie McCaw, to Terrace Downs for a luxury lunch.


Fourteen community groups and projects have cashed in on the small change dropped into collection boxes at Christchurch Airport. The change is topped up by a sizable donation from the airport company and divided among applicants. The latest round saw grants for a wide variety of groups and projects, including a portable pole-vault run for athletics competitions, Citizens' Advice Bureau, free theatre productions and education programme, holiday camps for children in need, Phillipstown Community Hub's three community events and the Special Children's Christmas Party.


Corporate travellers can sign up to free electric cars when they travel between Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. The programme launched in Christchurch allows regular business travellers who fly into any of the three cities Monday to Friday and out on the same day, the opportunity to book an e-Golf for the day, free of charge.




A one-night only dance performance is coming to Christchurch in September, following rave reviews in America.

"Beyond Calligraphy" is a double-bill programme performed by the Guangdong Modern Dance Company. American critics said "One of the big success stories of international dance…" (New York Times), "Full of meditative grace, sharp, cut-crystal physicality and languid dignity" (Washington Post) and "Powered by a beautiful mix of grace and testosterone" (Houston Chronicle).

The Guangdong Modern Dance Company was founded in 1992 as mainland China's first professional modern dance company. It is internationally renowned for exquisite and captivating performances, as well as the number of prestigious awards it has won.  

China Southern Airlines is sponsoring the performance as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival. It is one of 50 shows in the festival, but will take the stage for one night only. 

"Beyond Calligraphy", September 9, Aurora Centre, Christchurch




It's time to name and fame yourfavourite Canterbury business champions in the Champion Canterbury Business Awards, the largest business awards in the country.

General Manager Leeann Watson says the awards are now in their 15th year.

"The Champion Canterbury Business Awards celebrate the excellence, innovation and success of business in our region," she says.  "People across the South Island can vote right now to reward outstanding work by the nominees in the various categories.

"We anticipate this year's Awards Night in October will celebrate today's champions and inspire the champions of tomorrow."




The gap between the snow and the sky will close during the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, as athletes test their daring and the limits and spectators gasp and applaud.

Stunning scenery, the world's best talent and Kiwi hospitality is about to be offered up to a global audience, all free to view both on mountain and on ice, as well as on TVNZ's Duke Channel. 

The 16-day winter sport showcase will feature all five of the Southern Lakes ski resorts for the first time, plus ice hockey international test matches between Australia and New Zealand at the Queenstown Ice Arena.

Arthur Klap, Winter Games NZ CEO, says a true spectacle is on the cards.

"It feels like a bit of a champagne moment. We created the Winter Games NZ to highlight New Zealand's winter sports talent and introduce the world to our amazing venues," he says.

A flood-lit dual slalom will launch the Games on August 25 at Coronet Peak, followed by four World Cup events at Cardrona as well as mixed doubles curling at the Maniototo International Curling Rink in Naseby. The Remarkables features the new Games event, the North Face Frontier, while Treble Cone will host a Para-Snowboard Banked Slalom World Cup. 

The stars are literally lining up. The high profile American men's team has already indicated its intention to compete in the cross-country events at the Snow Farm, so spectators really will get up close to the top talent in the world. 

"People often talk about events as 'not to be missed' but I can hand on heart say this year's Games will reward anyone and everyone who comes to watch - including it being free to watch on TVNZ this year," says Mr Klap.




Welcome by name and by nature … and one of the joys of winter in the South Island.

Welcome Rock Trails is a 27 kilometre loop through Blackmore High Country Station in Garston, just outside of Queenstown.
It was hand-built by the owner/operators Tom and Katie O'Brien, then developed in conjunction with DOC to ensure its ecological sustainability.

The trail is available only to hikers from May to September - bikers can join in the fun the rest of the year - and it seems hiking through dramatic scenery with snow on the ground is keenly anticipated. 

Tom says "This is a very special part of the island and visitors tell us they love it for the breath-taking scenery and the fact that it's hardly touched by man. It's an uncrowded private trail with spectacular views off the beaten track and hikers are guaranteed a bed in the hut of their choice."

The trail is a single track, cross country trail, with 21 of the 27 kilometres hand-built with pick and shovel. To add to the pioneering feel, visitors can safely drink from the freshwater creeks along the way.

The trail is also known as the Roaring Lion Trail, because it follows along the historic Roaring Lion water race. The race is one of New Zealand's longest historic water races, originally cut as a channel across the hillside to bring water from streams to places where gold was mined.




Fans of Southland's famous cheese rolls know to go to Invercargill's main street and look for the elephant on the roof.

That's how to find Zookeepers, the café that has second and third generation fans after 26 years of serving up delicious food … including hundreds of cheese rolls a week.

Zookeepers' Nic McLeod says there's a significant number of what she calls "Cheeserollers" - fans of the toasted delicacy - including a 94-year old who visits every Tuesday for three cheese rolls and a pot of tea.

"Our secret ingredient is closely guarded by Barbs, our fabulous baker who makes the cheese rolls - and cheese scones and date scones, Afghans and Yo-Yos. We are a casual and groovy café and we serve a lot of Kiwi favourites, but we also mix it up."

From 6.30am when the first "Cheeserollers" arrive to buy breakfast, until the last dinner guests leave about 9pm, the doors are open and the flow of customers is steady seven days a week. Thursday's "Open Mic" nights attract musicians and music fans from near and far to enjoy the vibe.

"We have lots of regular customers, but we also love welcoming visitors. We're down the road from the Civic Theatre, so we see a few famous faces from time to time too. Kids love this café and we see them come back as young adults, which makes us think this café is a unique piece of South Island history."

Owner Paul Clark has a long association with cycling, with longstanding and widespread connections across the world, which accounts for French tourists who come looking for the elephant on the roof.

"Many visitors ask about cheese rolls when they arrive. They're not quite sure what they're asking for, but when we explain they ask how many to order. We always say 'One is not enough' and they seem to agree." 

Recipe books date cheese rolls back to the 1930s. Their big increase in popularity came in the 1950s when sliced bread became available, though they remain a South Island specialty.

Whatever their history, Nic declares cheese rolls a staple food in Southland - and likely to remain that way, if the hundreds being sold at Zookeepers every week are anything to go by.

 Zookeepers can't share their special recipe, but have some tips for great cheese rolls:

  • Very fresh sandwich bread - they only use Molenberg and cut the side crusts off
  • Good quality ingredients
  • Lots of tasty cheese
  • Your favourite additives - onions, onion soup, salt and pepper, parsley
  • Don't let the filling get too moist, because the roll will go soggy
  • Use a generous amount of filling
  • Toast the roll until it is just starting to brown, and the cheese is melted through
  • Always butter the top of it and serve it quickly.



June 17

Come smell the rubber! Drift cars don't usually run together - but they will for this event. You'll see special cars, including some with Bathurst and Wellington Street Race wins to their credit. Entry fee to this spectacle is a gold coin donation to charity.
June 22-25
Your chance to run and slither in, on and through mud pits, manmade hills, slippery slides, mud and water slides, with climbs, crawls and running for good measure. You can choose one lap or two (5km or 10km), and who to enter with - friends, family, a workmate - but be quick because entries are limited to 2,500 adults and 400 children.
July 28-29

The longest running fashion design awards of their type have been making Gore a fashion hub for more than 25 years. Come enjoy fashion shows, music, hair styling and much more.
July 28-30

A celebration of writing and reading. Marlborough venues will host literary stars including award-winning poets, novelists, cartoonists and fiction writers, including three shortlisters for the 2017 NZ Book Awards.
August 6

This event is for all runners, whether you're a starter or a regular competitor. It's a flat course around the beautiful Lake Hood catchment's lake, garden settings and reserves. Walkers are welcome too and there's a short dash for kids.
August 30-September 17

International and Kiwi performers and artists offer arts and entertainment across the city. Organisers promise killer songs and killer stories, clowns and crooners, and a variety of acts described as saucy, steamy, shocking and electrifying.