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West Coast & Southern Alps

Discover what the South Island of New Zealand has in hold for you. From breathtaking natural scenery to some of the freshest food you'll ever have, this road trip is sure to satisfy everyone.

Nelson - St Arnaud - Westport

Commence the drive from New Zealand's sunniest regions, Nelson, top of the South Island. Offering a range of geographical locations from long beaches like the Abel Tasman Coastal Track where you can spend a few hours kayaking or sailing. Head south to the picturesque town of St Arnaud and sit on the edge of Lake Rotoiti. From here drive south down to Westport via Buller Gorge and learn about the pioneering gold miners, settlers and prospectors, and how they tamed the wild land. The small town of Westport has a parochial spirit that the locals are extremely proud of in their region.

Charleston - Punakaiki - Greymouth - Hokitika

Continue driving south to Charleston and try cave rafting into the some of the largest rainforests in New Zealand, looking out for the glow-worm caves in the bottom levels and experiencing small river rapids down the Charleston Nile River. Driving along the west coastline stop off at Punakaiki, famous for the ‘pancake rocks’, blow-holes, and walking tracks. These limestone rock formations began 30 million years ago. There is a well formed loop track that winds from the road through native forest out to the spectacular rugged coastline. At Greymouth visit Monteiths Brewing Company, trying the chocolate stout, ginger beer and 9 types of classic beer. Try your hand at gold panning at Shantytown Heritage Park. Continue along the Kumara Highway to Hokitika famous for its Jade; and if visiting at the end of summer participate in the Wildfoods Festival where everything is on the menu!

Franz Josef - Mt Aspiring National Park - Wanaka

Head inland to the alpine town of Franz Josef and experience one of New Zealand’s most spectacular glacier World Heritage sites where ice meets rainforests. Choose to view the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier by helicopter or hiking. The drive continues along the Haast River and then inland along Haast Pass, through part of the magnificent Mt Aspiring National Park. Stop off stunning Lake Matheson and take a walk to the lake for an incredible photo. The final stop along the West Coast is Bruce Bay which has a strong Maori heritage. Head along State Highway 6 to the stunning township of Wanaka.

Lake Wanaka - Central Otago - Christchurch - Geraldine

There are many attractions and adventures to enjoy in Lake Wanaka. A popular ski destination in winter, Wanaka will give you access to the snowfields of Cardrona and Treble Cone. In summertime, enjoy hiking, sailing, fly-fishing, mountain biking, skydiving and kayaking. Take a side trip to Central Otago, home to pinot noir and enjoy freedom (free) camping at Cromwell.

As the route winds towards Christchurch, stop off for breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. Lake Pukaki offers stunning views across the water to Aoraki Mount Cook, NZ’s highest mountain. If time permits, take a side trip to the village and take a helicopter ride over the Alps and visit the Sire Edmund Hilary Centre to learn how Mount Cook helped him conquer Everest. There are many walking tracks, ideal for hiking and mountaineering. Lake Tekapo is part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it perfect for star gazing. Located in the Mackenzie Basin, the lake gets its turquoise colour from the fine rock-flour grounded by the glaciers. Visit the picturesque Church of the Good Shepard on its shoreline, built in 1935 for the regions pioneer families.

On the journey back to Christchurch, stop off at the quaint town of Geraldine. The cafes and restaurants offer locally grown produce. Here you will also find the Pukeko birds, Maori for “purple swamphen”. Continue along Highway 1 and conclude this drive in Christchurch.


West Coast and Southern Alps

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