The stunning Christchurch to Dunedin drive in South Island, New Zealand is one route that you can enjoy all-year-round. Whether you take to the open road in spring, summer, autumn or winter, this stunning journey is jam-packed full of natural beauty, native wildlife and friendly locals which make this road trip always worthy of doing, whatever the season.
Christchurch to Dunedin Drive
Route: Christchurch City to Dunedin Duration: three days Distance: 541km / 337 miles
After leaving Christchurch, you’ll drive through the quaint patchwork fields of the Canterbury Plains before passing over the unique criss-crossing network that is the Rakaia River and then onto Methven. Boasting an incredible backdrop of snow-capped mountains, this town is a bustling ski resort in winter with skiing and snowboarding at Mt Hutt Ski Area and an action-packed outdoor pursuits destination in summer.
The highlight of day one is without a doubt Lake Tekapo. Surrounded by domineering mountains which change throughout the seasons, Lake Tekapo is known for its magnificent aquamarine colour and multicoloured lupin flowers which run around its edges.
Following on from a peaceful night at Lake Tekapo, it’s onto the foot of Aoraki Mount Cook – the highest mountain in New Zealand. Here you can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the picturesque valley before visiting the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. The Tasman Glacier – the largest in New Zealand – is just down the road and has a must-see lookout point.
Day two’s highlight is the time you’ll spend at Omarama. This small, quaint town is renowned for being a fishing and gliding mecca, with several local wineries, excellent biking routes on the Alps2Ocean Cycle Trail, unparalleled walking opportunities and unique outdoor hot tubs.
On day three, you’ll begin by heading down to Dunedin, past the mesmerizingly blue lakes of Lake Benmore, Lake Aviemore and Lake Waitaki – make sure you take the time to stop and snap away with your camera. This road will take you through the golden hues of Waitaki Valley, following the rushing Waitaki River. Along the way, you’ll have the option to go off track and visit the Moeraki Boulders, plus a chance to see the fur seals and yellow-eyed penguin colonies at Katiki Point.
Then it’s onto your final destination – Dunedin. This city is one of the best preserved Edwardian and Victorian cities in the Southern Hemisphere and is where you can see everything from gothic churches, ornately decorated mansions and a deliciously tempting chocolate factory to native forestland, a stylish harbour and penguins riding the surf.
Want to experience the Christchurch to Dunedin drive yourself? Hire a car in Christchurch City or hire a motorhome instead and prepare to go on one of the most beautiful road trips you’ll ever make in your life. If you’re a planner, you can get a head start and book your accommodation in New Zealand before you even leave the house.