Road Trip from Christchurch to Dunedin

Driving from Christchurch to Queenstown is a popular choice, showcasing some of NZ’s best spots and stunning landscapes. There are two main routes you can take: via State Highway 1 and State Highway 8 (inland route) or State Highway 1 and State Highway 6 (coastal and inland combination). The inland route via SH8 is more popular for its scenic beauty.


Inland Route via SH8

  1. Rakaia Gorge: Just an hour from Christchurch, this is a great spot for a scenic walk or picnic with beautiful river views.
  2. Methven: A charming town and gateway to Mt. Hutt ski field, offering cafes and shops.
  3. Geraldine: A quaint town with artisan shops, cafes, and the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum.
  4. Fairlie: Known for the famous Fairlie Bakehouse, a must-stop for delicious pies.
  5. Lake Tekapo: Famous for its stunning turquoise lake, the Church of the Good Shepherd, and the Mount John Observatory for stargazing.
  6. Lake Pukaki: Offers breathtaking views of Mount Cook and a stunning blue lake.
  7. Mount Cook Village: A short detour from the main route, it offers hikes and stunning views of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
  8. Twizel: A great base for exploring the surrounding lakes and mountains.
  9. Omarama: Known for its gliding activities, hot tubs, and the Clay Cliffs.
  10. Lindis Pass: Offers stunning high-country scenery and is especially beautiful in winter with snow-covered peaks.
  11. Tarras: A small village known for its fruit orchards and the Shrek the Sheep story.

If you drive this route without stopping, it will take approximately 6-7 hours but we suggest you allow 10-12 hours so you have time for short stops at places like Geraldine, Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Twizel, and Lindis Pass.

Coastal and Inland Combination Route via SH1 and SH6

  1. Ashburton: A good stop for a break with several museums and art galleries.
  2. Timaru: Offers Caroline Bay, museums, and botanical gardens.
  3. Oamaru: Known for its Victorian precinct, blue penguin colony, and steampunk culture.
  4. Moeraki Boulders: Large, spherical boulders on Koekohe Beach.
  5. Dunedin: A vibrant city with historic architecture, the Otago Peninsula, and wildlife.
  6. Cromwell: Known for its fruit orchards, historic precinct, and Lake Dunstan.

Going this way takes around 8-9 hours without stopping but if you can, allow 12-14 hours so you can fit in short stops at places like Timaru, Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders, and Dunedin.

Final Leg to Queenstown

  1. Arrowtown: A charming historic gold mining town with quaint streets and beautiful autumn colors.
  2. Gibbston Valley: Famous for its wineries and vineyards, perfect for a wine tasting stop.

These stops provide a mix of natural beauty, historical interest, and local culture, making the drive from Christchurch to Queenstown an unforgettable journey. To allow yourself time to enjoy the ride, consider spreading the trip over two days so you can fully enjoy the attractions and scenery along the way.

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