GREYMOUTH – CHRISTCHURCH (Via Arthur’s Pass)
Travel distance is approximately 254kms (159 miles).
Allow at least 3 hours drive time (not including stops).
Leaving the coastal delights of the Greymouth, the final stage of your self-drive journey takes you past classic West Coast River and forest scenery before revealing the misty mountains of the Southern Alps.
The route through Arthur’s Pass is memorable for its scenery as well as its breathtaking civil engineering. From the heights of Arthur’s Pass the road follows the Waimakariri and Bealey Rivers down to the skiing areas of Porter Heights and Craigieburn before turning into serene rural views and cute country townships and then onto the famous Canterbury Plains.
Some notable stops along the route to Christchurch include:
PUNAKAIKI PANCAKE ROCKS & BLOWHOLES
Imagine cliffs and ravines with hundreds of horizontal slices along their vertical faces – looking like a huge stack of pancakes and you’ll have a picture of the pancake rocks! Take a visit at high tide to witness the wild west coast ocean swells rush headlong through narrow tunnels and force large amounts of water and compressed air to race upward through the vertical shafts. The result is an impressive noise and display of hissing, heaving and thumping that rhythmically emits geyser-like plumes of salt water.
ARTHUR’S PASS NATIONAL PARK
Straddling the Southern Alps, this truly magnificent alpine park links the Canterbury and West Coast regions together. There are several short walks available, including the Punchbowl Falls Track which takes approximately 1 hour and the Dobson Nature Walk which is highly recommended and is only half hour return. For those more experienced and prepared for the conditions, you’ll find that most of the mountains near the village have a summit track. Another highly recommended is Avalanche Peak, however you’ll need to allow a whole day and be prepared for mountain conditions, while Mount Rolleston (an impressive 2275 metres) near the summit of Arthur’s Pass is a popular climb for novice mountaineers. The Department of Conservation visitor centre is located in the Arthur’s Pass village and has the latest information on weather and track conditions.
CAVE STREAM SCENIC RESERVE
Located in the basin of Castle Hill, the 594 metre cave within the reserve is considered one of the most outstanding natural features within the Canterbury region. There are two entrances to the cave from the car park and the cave passage meanders and twists in total darkness between the two entrances, taking approximately 1 hour to go through.
This small rural town in the foothills of the Southern Alps and is considered the ‘the gateway to the Southern Alps’. In July 2007 a non-edible giant pink doughnut was erected to promote the upcoming movie, The Simpsons Movie, however in September 2009 it was set alight by an arsonist.
The South Island’s largest city is also known as ‘The Garden City’ and if you visit in Spring or Summer you will understand why. Hagley Park is buried under a sea of daffodils during Spring and colourful public gardens are scattered throughout the inner city.
Christchurch is very visitor friendly and it is easy to navigate around the inner city and botanical gardens on foot, or else hop on the historic Tram which runs a circuit throughout the day past the inner city and popular Arts Centre, Gallery, etc.
Accommodation is plentiful in the city and surrounds, from swanky inner city furnished apartments to motels, quaint B&B’s, luxury hotels and the typical hotel chains.
You wont go hungry when in Christchurch! The Strip and South Of Lichfield (SOL) are both popular areas, which are just restaurants, cafes and bars, while there are many seriously fabulous restaurants boasting an international flavour, from Italian to Mexican, to Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Cajun to name just a few.
Highly recommended Christchurch tourist attractions include…
The Arts Centre – During the weekends you can sample all the international flavours from the different food stalls, including popular and some rarer ethnic culinary delights while strolling amidst the markets, bustling with the sights and sounds of artists, craftspeople, musicians, buskers and more. Situated in the historic buildings of the original Canterbury University College, the Arts Centre is one of Christchurch’s most significant cultural attractions.
Christchurch Gondola – Enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of Christchurch, the Canterbury Plains, Southern Alps, Lyttelton Harbour and Pacific Ocean.
Christchurch Botanical Gardens – Established back in 1863, today the gardens are a haven for roller blading, walkers, joggers, cyclists and dog walkers! 30 hectares of park-like gardens surrounded by the Avon River and a diverse range of gardens and flowers throughout… and it’s free!
Christchurch Tramway – The ultimate inner city tour that lets you experience the magic of the central city onboard a beautifully restored tram. The 2.5 kilometer track takes about 25 minutes to complete and allows you to take in many of the “must see’ attractions. These include Cathedral Square, Aquarium of Discovery, The Arts Centre, The Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, Canterbury Museum, Punting on the Avon, New Regent Street and Cathedral Junction.
Punting On The Avon – Sit back and relax custom built punt as your friendly boatman guides you past the sights of the central city as you meander along the Avon River.
Cathedral Square – Located in the heart of the city, the Visitor Information Centre is located in ‘the square’. A multi-cultural feeling exists in this exciting part of town, always popular with tourists and lunch time dwellers. Be entertained by buskers, grab a coffee from Starbucks, or just watch life colourfully go by!
New Zealand Itineraries: South Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Franz Josef – Wanaka, Wanaka – Mt Cook and Mt Cook – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – St Arnuad, St Arnuad – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Queenstown, Queenstown – Dunedin, Dunedin – Oamaru and Oamaru – Christchurch
- 7 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercargill, Invercargill – Stewart Island, Stewart Island – Te-anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown and Queenstown – Christchurch
- 8 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Fox Glacier – Wanaka, Wanaka – Queenstown, Queenstown – Te Anau, Te Anau – Dunedin and Dunedin – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercragill, Invercargill – Te Anau, Te Anau Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo and Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Omarama, Omarama – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Haast, Haast – Greymouth and Greymouth – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Takaka, Takaka – Motueka, Motueka – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 11 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Milford Sound – Queenstown, Queenstown – Wanaka, Wanaka – Franz Josef, Franz Josef – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch