Ashburton is the hub of this district and offers high-quality shopping facilities, cafés, restaurants, craft shops, heritage museums and a nationally recognised art gallery. Lake Hood is situated just 5 minutes from Ashburton and boasts 7km of shoreline, a water ski tournament park and an international-class rowing course.
Rakaia is a rural community 50km south of Christchurch, with a 1.8km bridge spanning the Rakaia River, one of the world's best examples of a braided river, and offering some of the best fishing in the country. Rakaia offers a range of activities, including salmon fishing, jet boating, golf, garden visits, craft markets and farm tours.
Methven and Mt Hutt offer walks, fishing, hunting, skiing and snowboarding, bungy jumping, jet boating, hot-air ballooning and golf. Each year thousands of visitors from around the world base themselves at Methven Mt Hutt Village, which is at the heart of seven ski areas and features over 1000 sq km of the best heli-skiing terrain in New Zealand.
Trott's Garden has been awarded the prestigious "Garden of International Significance" by the New Zealand Garden Trust, for gardens considered to be outstanding for their horticultural value in plant material, cultivation, design, construction, and maintenance.
Ashburton Aviation Museum
Ashburton has a strong aviation history, being a training base in World War II. There were 50 Tiger Moths based there. The original tarmac and tie-down rings are still there to this day. These helped to secure the planes from Mid Canterbury's strong nor'west winds. The Ashburton Aviation Museum is well worth a visit.
Ashburton Art Gallery
The gallery maintains a full programme of exhibitions throughout the year which promote and exemplify the works of local and national artists for the public. Exhibitions range from solo to group compositions and are sourced through the gallery collection, the artists and other institutions.
Ashburton Golf Club
Ashburton Golf Club is one of 17 courses in the Aorangi area. It is an 18-hole course located 1km north of Ashburton just off State Highway 1. It is one of the top courses in Canterbury and has full irrigation from tee to green. It offers easy walking, top-quality golfing conditions all year round and is well maintained with very good greens. The course is well drained and can be played all year round.
At the village, see the home of the world-famous Ashford spinning wheel and weaving looms and learn these timeless crafts. Classes and workshops are available in the mill house which was built in 1914 in the arts and craft style. Take home an original Ashford wheel, homespun jersey, fleece, yarns, sheep, souvenirs, crafts and gifts.
Lake Hood, its park surroundings and Huntingdon Park, form the 173 ha Ashburton Aquatic Park. The park comprises the 80ha expanse of Lake Hood with an eight-lane international rowing course, separate international water-skiing course and additional areas for kayaking, sailing, boating and swimming. The course attracts regular kayaking events and is already one of New Zealand's premier rowing facilities.
EA Networks Centre
The EA Networks Centre is a state-of-the-art indoor sports, aquatic and recreational facility that offers something for everyone all year round. Opened in May 2015, the centre boasts four indoor pools, as well as a relaxing spa and steam room, four indoor courts, two outdoor courts and offers a broad range of aquatic and fitness facilities, including Les Mills, AshSwim Swim School, Aquacise classes, and a fully-equipped fitness centre featuring the latest gym and fitness testing equipment. On any given day you may find netball, basketball, futsal, badminton, volleyball, tennis or a range of other sports being played in the international-grade facility.