canterbury’s own lifestyle magazine / a great local read

Situated just over an hour’s drive south-west from Christchurch, it is the place where the Canterbury Plains finish and the foothills of the Southern Alps begin. A place of breathtaking beauty and charm, bursting with limitless possibilities for adventure. If you are craving the mountains or simply longing for a nice walk in the great outdoors, followed by a hearty meal and the ambience of a cosy fire, then Methven has got you covered.

Methven is busiest in the winter (from June to October), when skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels come to enjoy Mt Hutt. With its award-winning Ski School and runs to suit the beginner, intermediate or advanced skier or boarder, there is something for everyone. The top car park is just 30 minutes from the centre of town; and, with an elevation of 2,185 metres, the view from the top is spectacular. For those in need of a ride to the top, Methven Travel’s Ski Bus will get you up the mountain.

For the more experienced skiers and snowboarders seeking something beyond the ‘double black diamond’ runs of Mt Hutt, adventure awaits in the nearby club fields. There is an abundance of options for off-piste and backcountry skiing in these areas and, with all the local talent cruising right along beside you, you are sure to release your inner ski bunny in no time.

With all of these options right on your doorstep, Methven provides the perfect hub for all things ski, board and snow. There is a wide range of accommodation available in and around town, from the affordable Mt Hutt Bunkhouse, to the swish Brinkley Resort with its full service facilities and central location, to the lovely Quickenberry Guesthouse nestled on the edge of the Lake Coleridge basin. For all your outdoor needs, there is Alpine Sports and numerous other retailers offering products and services year-round, ensuring you have the right gear for all your mountain adventures.

Methven’s famous pubs ensure a good time, with gigs and live music scheduled all year long – offering a great atmosphere to meet up with friends and refuel after a big day on the mountains. Try a wild game burger with a jug of Speight’s – it doesn’t get more South Island than that.

But don’t fret if you aren’t into the pub scene; there are eateries to suit all palates – from fine dining, to the more casual experiences of good home-cooked tucker at the Topp Country Café or a great coffee and baked delight at Primo e Secundo. Everything in town is within walking distance and it won’t take long before you’re chatting with one of the locals and feeling like a local yourself.

In the summer (December to March) the town takes a breath, shifts into a lower gear and offers an affordable base for the avid mountain biker and tramper. DOC provides a wealth of information on all of the tracks in the area – to help you prepare for your adventure and so that you know what you are getting into ahead of time. Check out the local i-SITE, where you can grab a list of all the closest tracks, along with detailed maps and information.

The Methven Walkway is a 12km loop showcasing the area’s best. This must-do walk goes through native bush, private fields and farms, and some cute little pockets of town that would otherwise be inaccessible, and the panoramic views of the mountains are stunning. It takes approximately two hours and is mostly easy-going. Some of the other renowned tracks surrounding Methven include Awa Awa Rata Reserve, Washpen Falls, Woolshed Creek and Mt Peel.

New Zealand’s best-kept secret for action-packed outdoor adventures, Methven also offers plenty of ways to revitalise and refresh through the four seasons. There are some cute little stops to satisfy your retail therapy cravings in town. For the latest in fashion and footwear, with a touch of homeware, check out the funky Clothe boutique, or for that last minute something special or flowers ‘just because’, visit Alpine Florist & Gifts. There is also the Smith Gallery which houses the beautiful works of local artist, Karen Smith. Karen’s stunning oil paintings capture the forever changing light and mood of New Zealand’s landscape and are a sight to behold.

For the ultimate in relaxation after a day on the slopes, there are a number of spa facilities available and a number of physiotherapists, acupuncturists and masseurs just a hop, skip and a jump away. If you feel the need to stretch or test those legs in another way, you can pick something off the list of classes available at the Mountain Gym, like RPM or boxing, or you can take a yoga class at the Mt Hutt Heritage Centre.

For something a little bit different, there is also the NZ Alpine & Agriculture Encounter experience at the Memorial Hall. This multi-faceted exhibit offers some insights into the ways farming and snowsports are linked together through trade, tourism and a shared reliance on the region’s unique geology and climate, with plenty of interactive displays to engage the children, too.

Avid golfers, you are not forgotten. The 18-hole golf course offers a family-friendly round with well-groomed fairways – with the mountains providing a stunning backdrop. Other activities include: horse riding, fishing, clay shooting, archery, scenic helicopter flights, heli-skiing and jet boating through the nearby Rakaia Gorge.

You can tailor your holiday by visiting Karen Blacklow and the team at NZ Travel Brokers. They are available to talk all things New Zealand and can help to arrange your next visit or add-ons to your current stay.

With crisp, cool, blue-skied mornings and the warm light setting over the mountains in the afternoons, combined with the welcoming and vibrant energy of the town, Methven really is an amazing place to visit.

[ WORDS Hana Carlson, IMAGES Hana Carlson & Julian Apse ]