To Methven & Beyond: A Weekend Getaway Guide

A woman walking through the water at Opuke Thermal pools with the Southern Alps in the background.

Methven is an outdoor playground, and thanks to some recent additions to the town scene, there's even more reason to visit this mountainside community on the western edge of the Canterbury Plains.

Words by: Johnny Gibson

Photos by: Nancy Zhou

Methven has long been the gateway to Mt Hutt, a small Canterbury rural town that dramatically increases in size come winter but is traditionally pretty quiet come summer. However, things are a changing as this alpine-inspired village has added more to its repertoire and overall appeal. If there's snow and Mt Hutt is open, then it goes without saying a day on the slopes is unbeatable. However, this guide is for the rest of the year when the ski season is not in play.

A blue river winding underneath snow covered mountains.

Early Morning Hike - Rakaia Gorge Walkway

609 Rakaia Gorge Road, Windwhistl

Pack some snacks, start your trip on the right foot and reap the benefits of an early morning hike by tackling the Rakaia Gorge Walkway. This 10+km trail should take three to four hours and will lead you across farmland, forest, glacial-carved terraces, geological sites and the old Snowdon coal mine entry, all before you reach the summit lookout point. The track starts off State Highway 72 Inland Scenic Route on the edge of the Rakaia River.

Well-earned Lunch Buzz at Topp Country Café

45 Forest Drive, Methven

Time to head back to Methven for some much-needed lunch. Now, it's not every day you walk into a café and bump into a Dame, but at Topp Country Café you're in luck. Run by Lynda Topp, one of New Zealand's loved Topp Twins entertainers, together with wife Donna, here you can sip a cuppa and spot a celebrity in the kitchen. The menu includes the classics and the cabinet makes for hungry eyes, but it does seem like pies are their crowd pleasers, made exclusively by Canterbury Spitroast. Wherever your savoury decisions fall, it's good to keep in mind there are usually some old fashion sugar hits waiting in the cabinet too. We're looking at you, cream doughnut! And guess what? You've already hit your steps for the day!

Afternoon soaks at Ōpuke Thermal Pools & Spa

35 Mount Hutt Station Road, Methven

Once the food has settled, give the body some love with a long soak at Ōpuke Thermal Pools. Upon arrival, you'll notice the impressive solar thermal collectors which heat the pool water system. Head through the captivating entranceway and be amazed at this world-class set-up. There's a range of pools, from the family-friendly Discovery Pools to the adult-only Tranquillity Pool, including a swim-up bar and private Solar Tubs. For those who want to take it a step further, we recommend the Day Spa for facials, Hot Stone Massages and Reflexology, or try something new like the ancient Arabic Rasul Steam Room. The onsite cafe provides an excellent spot for a caffeine refill and mountain views.

Dinner at The Dubliner

116 Main Street, Methven

A true Irish pub in the heart of Methven, The Dubliner is a cosy spot for a pint and some serious grub. On the restaurant menu, you'll find local favourite lamb rack and their signature t-bone steak dish. However, if you want something to share, check out the pizzas, each made using handmade dough and their secret recipe - a house-made pizza sauce. This spot always has a great atmosphere, especially if you're lucky enough to catch it on a night with live music and the fire roaring. 

 

Slow Sunday Breakfast with Primo E Secundo

38 McMillan Street, Methven

An understated café serving locals and visitors for over 18 years, Primo E Secundo is famous for its eclectic decor of vintage goods, knick-knacks and old memorabilia, and the tomato & silverbeet soup which has been on the menu just as long. Alongside the menu, there's an alluring selection of delicious baked counter goods that perfectly match your Allpress coffee. Undoubtedly an easy spot to pass some time, so wander around, grab the paper, put your feet up and enjoy the soup!

Retail and Beauty Therapy

3/36 McMillan Street (Berry Beauty) // 30 Forest Drive (Clothe)

Shopping and beauty aren't the first things that come to mind when you think of rural Canterbury towns, but thanks to some new additions and tasteful locals, Methven holds its own when it comes to retail and beauty therapy. Berry Beauty Medispa is the best place to start and a destination in its own right. You'll feel a sense of calm as soon as you walk through the doors thanks to its beautiful fit out and tones. Options include facials, cosmetic teeth whitening and a range of beauty treatments. If they can't manage to sneak you in, Ōpuke Thermal Pools & Spa also has you covered with their range of day spa options. Clothe is the home of women's fashion and homewares in Methven. Nestled in the village, the large windows and well-curated objects draw you in and encourage further browsing. Alongside clothing and homewares are baby goods, stationery, jewellery and more.

Berry Beauty photos by Tegan Clark Photography

Lunch at Staveley Store

2 Burgess Road, Staveley

Now it's time to make your way to the fabled Staveley Store. Established in 1876, the Staveley Store is nestled under the Mid Canterbury foothills and serves as the community meeting spot for a chin-wag, delectable home-baked goods, lunches and coffee. Take your pick from the menu or keep to the classics and go for the lamb and venison pies. To finish, do as the locals do and order a slice of carrot cake. You'll also find a range of local products from family-owned businesses inside.  

Explore Mayfield

Mayfield Klondyke Road (Overflow) // 2006 Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road (Panthers Rock)

Next on the itinerary is exploring the small farming settlement of Mayfield. Park up and wander around and enjoy the remarkable landscape views this little gem of a town offers. There's one place that puts Mayfield on the map: Overflow. Self-described as a retro collectables store, expect a bit of everything everywhere, and make sure you set plenty of time aside as many rooms and passageways lead to more. An absolute must-do on any trip to Mayfield, but keep an eye on their Facebook for hours as they tend to change a bit.

After all the treasure hunting, you will be in need of some refreshments. Lucky for you, Panthers Rock & Country Pub is located just down the road and provides the right kind of country hospitality post a proper rummage. Food options are plenty, with great snacks and platters for the little ones, plus all the classic meals you'll be looking for. Service is super friendly, and the vibe is relaxed as, so put your feet up and reflect on the uniqueness of these little towns.

Neat Christchurch & Canterbury Places

Bessie

A table setting at Bessie, Christchurch's steak house.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Restaurants key icon.

Dark, a little brooding and faultless in its theme, Bessie is an immaculate display of fine dining in the inner city.

The Observatory Hotel

A Modern Gothic lounge design.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Accommodation key icon.

The Observatory Hotel is a beautiful central location in Christchurch, allowing you to leave the car for your stay and explore the city on foot.

A&C Homestore

A&C Homestore interior in Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury

Found down a laneway in The Crossing precinct, the retail heart of Christchurch’s inner city, shopping at A&C Homestore is always a dreamy experience.

Dux Central

Dux Central exterior, Christchurch.
Place Christchurch & Canterbury
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

If bars could be left or right handed, Dux Central would be ambidextrous. There’s nothing this place can’t be.