12 marvelous things to do in Methven

Looking for a fantastic spot to visit that’s within easy reach of Christchurch? This guide covers the best things to do in Methven – use it to help plan your trip to this quaint little mountain town.

Only just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch, Methven is best known for its ski field, Mt Hutt.  Wintertime attracts visitors from all over the world and the town becomes a busy hive with those wanting to hit the slopes.

However, Methven has certainly grown in the last handful of years and has become an all-season destination.  With so much to do, from outdoor activities to relaxing, there is something for everyone – no matter what time of year.

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Blue houses with flowers blooming on a summer day.
Methven on a beautiful summer’s day.

Where to Stay In and Around Methven

Though Methven makes an awesome day trip, with so much to do there, we recommend spending the night.  Ideally you’ll find a few nights is what you need to experience it all. 

There are a variety of quality options for accommodation in Methven, with something to suit all needs. We recommend the following:

  • Big Tree Lodge ($) – This former vicarage is now a lodge, built from stunning native timber. It gives all the cabin feels and is the perfect option for backpackers and small groups. With budget-friendly options, stays include free WiFi and the use of their washing machine. It also has a large communal lounge and kitchen.
  • Snow Denn Lodge ($) – New owners, Tim and Laura, have recently renovated both lodges, providing a range of budget-friendly options.  They offer not only dorm rooms but also private rooms and a holiday home within the lodge.  This is a great family option.
  • Abisko Lodge ($$) – Abisko has the largest range of accommodation options in Methven and can cater to a variety of people.  The lodge offers private rooms, whilst their apartments are great for larger groups.  They also have powered sites for anyone travelling in a campervan.
  • Southern Cross Lodge ($$) – This lodge has private rooms with a mix of studio and family lodge options.  They also have an outdoor pool and spa, a play area for the kids, pool tables inside and a delicious continental breakfast on offer.
  • The Studio at Northfield ($$$) – Set on 4 acres of gardens and paddocks, The Studio at Northfield is the perfect place to unwind. It’s a bit like stepping onto an English Estate (and is every bit as beautiful)! Alongside stunning furnishings and perfect peace and quiet, your room comes complete with a kitchenette stocked with complimentary teas, coffees, cookies and fruit.
  • Fable Terrace Downs Resort by MGallery ($$$) – If you’re looking for something luxurious, be sure to check out Fable Terrace Downs. With all-day dining, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a fitness centre and a wide range of outdoor activities, you won’t even need to leave the resort (but we suggest you do).
  • Gunyah Country Estate ($$$) – Tucked into the foothills of the Southern Alps, Gunyah Country Estate allows you to stay amongst some of the best local scenery (including views out to Mt Hutt). Book into their self-catering holiday homes, or splash out on their luxurious lodge accommodation, set in the grand homestead.
  • Montrose Estate ($$$$) – If you’re travelling with a group and are looking for something especially memorable, we recommend the Montrose Estate. Located at the base of the Mt Hutt sky area (on 750 acres of prime riverfront land), you’ll find 3 totally private luxury chalets. They each include a full kitchen, dining and living area, with balconies overlooking the Rakaia River and a lake. All chalets have private baths and some even have a hot tub, exclusively for your group, of course.
Impressive dining area with transparent glass walls of Montrose Estate.
Montrose Estate is the perfect place to relax near Methven.

Epic Things to do in Methven

1. Hit the Slopes on Mt Hutt

Rated New Zealand’s best ski resort 7 years in a row, they say you haven’t skied in New Zealand until you’ve been to Mt Hutt. With a new chair lift installed and over 300 hectares of skiing area, you’ll be sure to get your fix. 

The resort has a couple of bars, cafes and restaurants, and plenty of wonderful terrain. Lessons and rentals are available up the mountain too, and the friendly staff are ready to make sure you have the best skiing or snowboarding experience possible.

Even if you’re not into snow sports, it’s worth heading up the mountain for a sightseeing experience. 

Mt Hutt Station Road, Mt Hutt, Methven 7730

Summit of Mt. Hutt overlooking at the vast lands and a long river at a distance.

2. Soak in the Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa

The latest and greatest on our list of things to do in Methven is to relax in the brand-new solar-powered hot pools, Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa. 

Be assured, they are awesome! 

There you’ll find a café, a kid’s area with water caves and a plunge pool, an adults-only spot with a swim-up bar and private spas – Ōpuke has truly thought of it all.

Enjoy the hot pools after a weekend of skiing or hiking the trails, or bring your family for some water fun. However, as this new wellness spot is the place to be, we suggest you book your spot in advance.

If you’re into geothermal pools, you can also check out the best natural hot springs in Aotearoa.

35 Mount Hutt Station Road, Methven 7782

Small Opuke Cool Pool built on the open with a magnificent view of a vast farmland and a cloudy mountain.

3. Experience the Turquoise Waters of the Rakaia Gorge

Only 10 minutes outside of Methven, you’ll find the stunning turquoise waters of the Rakaia River. 

Whether you’re keen to walk along the Rakaia Gorge walkway (a 10km loop track), stroll along the riverbed or to get your adrenaline pumping on a jet boat ride, this gorge is a must-do in town…

609 Rakaia Gorge Road, Windwhistle 7572

The Rakaia River with mountain ranges at a distance.

4. Ride the Discover Jet

Based out at the Rakaia Gorge, Discovery Jet offers a variety of different run times from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. The thrilling ride glides along the braided Rakaia River and through the gorge where you’ll enjoy views of ancient limestone cliffs and mountain tops.

We love that this trip takes you to parts of the area that most people will never see. Plus you’ll experience the skipper putting on a real show with 360° spins and quick manoeuvres over the rapids.

c/- Terrace Downs Resort, Coleridge Rd, Windwhistle 7572

Black speedboat filled with tourists docks on a rocky coast of Rakaia River.

5. See Methven from Above: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

An absolute highlight of any visit to Methven is a hot air balloon ride with Adventure Balloons. 

You’ll get to experience all parts of a hot air balloon ride including set up, before floating up, up and away. Enjoy a peaceful flight with panoramic views of Methven, the Canterbury Plains, the surrounding mountains and sometimes all the way to Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Of all the things to do in Methven, this is surely one for the bucket list!

River dividing two farmlands with clouds covering a portion of them.

6. Check Out the NZ Alpine & Agriculture Encounter

Located in the Mt Hutt Memorial Hall, this is a great place to learn about life in rural Canterbury and the region’s alpine history. This is home to a range of interesting interactive exhibits that show how the two main industries in Methven, agriculture and skiing, have helped shaped the town. 

This engaging museum is a hit with adults and children alike, plus it’s open every day, making it a wonderful addition to your Methven itinerary. During the week, pick up tickets at the Mt Hutt Memorial Hall counter. Come the weekend, you’ll find them at the Methven i-Hub centre.

160 Main Street, Methven 7730

Kids touching a sculpture of a cow in Methven Heritage Centre.
Methven Heritage Centre Grain and Snow experience.

7. Grab a Bite to Eat in Methven

It’s easy to satisfy your tastebuds in town, with a variety of pubs, restaurants and cafés. 

If you’re looking for a takeaway coffee head to Alpine Grind on Main Street or Primo Café for a delicious breakfast.  The Blue Pub has excellent lunch options or for a more formal sit-down dinner, try Ski Time or the Dubliner. 

Incredibly, this small town is home to even more delicious kai – from Thai and Indian to dumplings, pizza and burgers – you certainly won’t go hungry here!

Couples having fun at Cafe 131 in Methven.

8. Play a Round of Golf (Complete with Mountain Views)

How many places can you play a round of golf with breathtaking views of snowcapped mountains in the background?

The Methven Golf Club is open year-round to both visitors and members, offering exactly that – incredible views out to Mt Hutt.

They have a range of green fee options including 9 or 18 holes, along with the option to rent clubs. It is worth noting though that they regularly host club competitions, so be sure to check their schedule before you plan to visit.

Hobbs Road, Methven 7730

Yellow flag near a hole in Methven Golf Club.

9. See the Fairy Doors on the Methven Walkway

The Methven Walkway is an 11km long walkway that takes you around the town and along the beautiful RDR (Rangitata Diversion Race). You can do the entire track or just parts of it depending on what suits you and your whānau. 

The highlight of the walk is through the trees, into what locals call the ‘Enchanted Forest’. There, you’ll see the fairy doors and painted rocks that many residents have placed there themselves. 

This is a dog-friendly walk that is also popular with bikers – it really is suited to everyone!

Pro Tip: Though it isn’t necessary, you can pick up a map for this walk at the Methven i-Hub centre.

A long canal with a small bridge in a huge farmland.

10. Explore the Awa Awa Rata Reserve

If you’re keen to get your hiking boots on, the Awa Awa Rata Reserve has a variety of tracks to explore.  From 30-minutes to a 3.5-hour day hike, the Alder, Opuke and Scotts Saddle tracks take you through native bush on the foothills of Mt Hutt.

Not only will you find some of the best easy walks in mid-Canterbury there (along with some challenging options too), but they also have toilets at the end of McClennans Road and numerous picnic areas. 

Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit, as you’ll see the rhododendrons and foxgloves in full bloom. Really though, it is worthwhile visiting the reserve at any time of year.

A couple walks along the grassy trail of Awa Awa Rata Reserve Hike.

11. Ride the Biking Tracks

Not only does Mt Hutt provide beautiful hiking trails and memorable skiing, but there are also 41 mountain biking tracks to cover, ranging from absolute beginner to expert!  The trails are all well-maintained, with berms, jumps and bridges. Don’t let the jumps worry you though, there are always easy lines offered as an alternative.

You’ll find the Mt Hutt Bike Park located just 10 minutes out of town.  Plus, if you don’t have your own bike, Methven has you covered with rentals from Big Als.

Rosehill Road, Mount Hutt 7782

Bikers undergoing extreme mountain biking in Mt. Hutt Bike Park.

12. Catch a movie at Cinema Paradiso

After a busy few days, sometimes you just want to relax – even on holiday. Cinema Paradiso offers the ability to do exactly that.

With an intimate viewing experience and a big screen playing all the new releases, Methven is fortunate to have its very own little movie theatre.. Catch a movie after dinner, or treat yourself to a cold drink or ice cream as you catch a flick. 

Open Wednesday to Sunday, you can find all their showing times online.

112 Main Street, Methven 7730

Popcorn spilled over on a white table.

With so many wonderful things to do in Methven, be sure some time to stop by on your next South Island itinerary.

This is a guest post brought to you by Lauren Korstrom, a Methven local with wonderful inside knowledge.

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