Presentation of the destination
Tranquil and peaceful with a strong sense of community, Oxford is a town of under 2000 residents stretched out its green and pleasant main street, 50 km northwest of Christchurch, at the edge of the Canterbury Plains. With friendly English-speaking inhabitants, a relaxed and welcoming vibe and stunning natural surroundings offering ample opportunities for bush hiking, biking and riding, Oxford is a popular tourist destination. Being in New Zealand, it makes an ideal holiday spot for northern hemisphere dwellers looking to escape the wintry chill. The currency is the New Zealand dollar, NZD. The time zone is UTC +12.
Points of interests / things to see
If you’re lucky enough to be in town on the weekend, a trip to the Oxford Farmers Market is a must for food lovers. This colourful and fun market brings together many resourceful and creative people from the local community, who grow crops, raise livestock, bake or make preserves. There’s a busy and fun atmosphere, with live music, friends meeting, and people snapping up deals. More than 25 stalls cluster in the main street, selling locally raised or caught organic meat and fish, free range eggs, farm-fresh vegetables and fruit, hand-picked flowers and home made jams, preserves, bread and cake. Almost all of the produce on sale has been made or grown by the seller, so if you’re curious about the chutney or want to know more about the meat then just ask. You’ll discover just how important clean, healthy, pesticide-free food is to New Zealanders, and how delicious it can be. There’s also a range of tasty brunch and coffee options if all the shopping makes you peckish. Every Sunday 9am – 12 noon, Main Street. See http://www.oxfordfarmersmarket.co.nz/ for more details.
Nestled on the edge of town lies the charming Ribblesdale Gardens. It’s the town’s number one spot for weddings, and you can see why – over 25 years of gardening knowhow and hard work have transformed these four-acre gardens into a succession of surprising, eco-friendly areas, each more beautiful than the last. Based on cutting-edge environmental theories and honest old-fashioned gardening wisdom, the garden includes a host of different landscaped areas. Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in the secret garden, makes some colourful new friends in the butterfly boudoir, admire the stunning colours and textures of the azalea and rhododendron garden. Wildlife abounds wherever you look, and there’s plenty of restful spots to sit and while away the day. Snap up potted plants and organic Oxford honey, and if you’re finding it hard to tear yourself away, why not enquire about the cosy cottage accommodation? It’s a little piece of paradise. Gardens located 1km east of Oxford Township, entrance is $10. Open Spring – Autumn. More information on their website: http://www.ribblesdalegardens.co.nz/.
Explore Oxfords rolling foothills and stunning mountain scenery on horseback at the Kowhai Residential School of Riding. Whether you’re an old hand or a total beginner, Kowhai have over 90 horses of all shapes, sizes and temperaments, so there’s bound to be one that’s right for you. Offering on-farm accommodation complete with delicious home-cooked meals, or shorter treks and day rides, there’s something for all budgets and tastes. Enjoy over 100,000 acres of trekking, as well as over 100 cross country fences and a dressage school. Meander through the willowy lowlands on an easy-going old nag, or head for the hills for spectacular views across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch and the chance to feel the wind in your hair. All safety helmets and wet weather gear is provided, and there’s a small shop selling soft drinks, chocolate and crisps, so bring a few dollars for a snack after your ride. Address: 711 Island Road, View Hill, Oxford. Phone 03 3124309. For more information and to view prices, visit the website at http://www.kowhai.co.nz/index.html.
There’s no greater symbol of the close-knit nature of Oxford residents than the museum, a building constructed by the community from more than 20,000 hand-made bricks. Timber was locally sourced and meticulously fitted by the town’s carpenters, and even now the museum relies on the generosity of volunteers and donors to operate. This labour of love houses an ever-changing selection of interesting exhibits, examining the sawmilling and farming history of the town. Discover the memories and old folk tales of the area, including the Great Oxford fire in 1898 that destroyed many old buildings. The museum also plays the role of community centre, hosting various events including country arts and crafts days, where you can learn about spinning, rug making, weaving and flower arranging. The museum is a non-profit organisation, and currently looking to build an extension to house its collection of old farm machinery, so do drop a few dollars in the pot when you visit. Keep an eye out for the Heritage Gaol next door, a tiny Victorian lock-up that shows just how little crime the town has suffered. Address: 70 Main Street, Oxford. Open Sunday and by arrangement. Phone: 03 312 4185.
The much-loved New Zealand food legend, Jo Seagar, whose shows and cookbooks have made her a household name, realised a lifelong dream when she set up her own cookery school, café and store in Oxford. With a non-nonsense common sense approach and a passion for the incredible scenery, food and wine of the South Island, Jo teaches small classes of four to five participants the tricks of the trade. She uses fresh local ingredients, imagination and knowhow to deliver her famous “Lunch and Learn” lessons, where students create their own delicious meal. The store stocks the best KitchenAid stand mixers, MagiMix food processors, cast iron ware and a whole host of other gadgets for budding chefs to add to their tool kit. The café, open 8am – 4pm daily, serves gorgeous coffee, sweet treats and lunches in a restful airy space. Curl up by the window, sip on a latte and dive into your latest cookbook. There’s also a B&B on-site, with legendary Seagars cooked breakfast included. Address: 78 Main Street, Oxford. Phone: 03 3121435. Website: http://joseagar.com/at-oxford/.
Head to the largest commercial alpine ski area in the south island and hit the slopes at Mount Hutt. Between June and October the resort offers an excellent range of runs for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, with stunning views across the Canterbury landscape. Stay at the nearby town of Methven, where the Lord of the Rings film crew was based for part of their shoot, 80 km from Oxford through beautiful countryside. Website: http://nzski.com/mountain.jsp?site=mthutt.
Just under two hours from Oxford lies the peaceful spa town of Hanmer Springs. Here, over the Hanmer fault, a natural hot spring was discovered in the late 19th century. Relax in the range of thermal rock pools and sulphur pools, whose healing minerals can help with arthritis and rheumatism. Enjoy spa treatments, massage and beauty therapy while the kids enjoy the AquaPlay area, full of waterfalls, slides and other interactive features. Website: http://www.hanmersprings.co.nz/
Travel into the true Canterbury highlands and visit the beautiful Korowai Torlesse Tussocklands Park. The park really feels like the end of the world, with thousands of acres of unspoilt wilderness to explore and only a few basic huts for accommodation. Climbing, hiking, biking, hunting for pigs and chamois, cross-country skiing, picnicking and boating are all popular activities, and the area is a dream for wildlife lovers. Check the Department of Conservation to plan your trip, and be sure to follow the Outdoor Safety Code. Website: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-visit/canterbury/north-canterbury-and-arthurs-pass/korowai-torlesse-tussocklands-park/.
A 40-minute drive from Oxford will take you to Waikuku beach, a coastal paradise for surfers, beachcombers and sun-worshippers. The natural beauty of the place has made it a mecca for hippies and artists who have made their homes here. Just south of town, you’ll also find the Kaiapoi Pa, one of the region’s most significant Maori settlements, built in 1700 by Tu Rakautahi, the Ngai Tahu chief. Visit the site and see the monument commemorating the conflict that destroyed the town. Waikuku and Kaiapoi are just past Rangiora on scenic Route 72.
Vacation rentals in Oxford (England)
How to get there ?
Thanks to its proximity to Christchurch, South Island’s largest city, which is only 45 minutes south of Oxford, international visitors are well placed to enjoy a trip to Oxford as they can arrive at Christchurch airport, a major transit hub. Routes from Christchurch fly to Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and the UAE. Interestingly, it’s also the departure point for scientists heading to McMurdo, in Antarctica. Oxford is a popular weekend getaway for the city dwellers, who hit Route 72 north to enjoy Oxford’s charms. Once you’re in the town, everything is easily located and walkable thanks to the town’s straightforward linear layout. Renting a car in Christchurch is a good idea for exploring the region, as the roads are excellent and very quiet. There’s a cluster of rental places around the airport, or for something a bit different hire a campervan from Jucy in the city centre (http://www.jucy.co.nz/). Long distance bus and train routes link Christchurch with other cities, but Oxford itself is best accessed by rental car. Once you’re in town, bikes are also very popular with the super-healthy New Zealanders, so why not join them and hop in the saddle?
Oxford city hall
Hotels in Oxford (England)