QUEENSTOWN – CHRISTCHURCH (Via Omarama, Lake Tekapo & Ashburton)
Travel distance is approximately 491kms (305 miles).
Allow at least 6.25 hours drive time (not including stops).
Today you have quite a lot of drive time ahead, so make sure you plan plenty of ‘driver reviver’ rest stops along the way! On that note, after a hearty breakfast at one of the many fabulous Queenstown cafes, it is time to pack your bags, gas up the rental vehicle and hit the road on route back to Christchurch city.
This self-drive trip will showcase some of the best natural scenery to be experienced in the South Island, so make sure you have the camera ready!
Some notable stops along the route to Christchurch include:
The Mackenzie Basin is linked with Central Otago through the stunning Lindis Pass. At an impressive altitude of 971 metres above sea level, the views are impressive as you cross the saddle between the valleys of the Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers. During winter you can expect to see snow beside the road at times, and the surreal brown tussock landscape in summer is picture worthy!
Internationally recognised as one of the top gliding locations in the world thanks to the unique geography combined with the northwesterly wind that creates thermals that can take glider pilots to a dizzyingly 10,000 metres! If you have time, a scenic gliding flight is a pretty spectacular and ultra-special way to enjoy an aerial view of this part of New Zealand.
Fast becoming a popular Kiwi holiday base for holidaymakers that enjoy getting outside! Base yourself here for kayaking, horse trekking, mountain climbing or biking, ski-ing and even bird watching! A great place for a driver reviver, get out and stretch your legs and grab a coffee at the cafe.
Located South-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Tekapo is one of the most picturesque villages in New Zealand due to its stunning view across a remarkably turquoise coloured lake to the towering mountains of the Southern Alps. A ‘must see’ is the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd located on the shores of the lake. Close by is a bronze statue sculpted to recognise the district’s debt to the sheepdog.
MT SOMERS CONSERVATION AREA
Featuring rugged bush, open sub-alpine tussock lands, historic coalmines, impressive volcanic formations and deep canyons, it is easy to understand why nature enthusiasts enjoy the range of walking tracks on offer in this area. Located in the foothill ranges of the Southern Alps, the area offers a couple of easy walks, including Sharplin Falls (45 minutes) and the Natural Trail (30 minutes).
A great place to enjoy a late lunch break at one of the many cafes or restaurants in the bustling township. The area also boasts great shopping facilities, craft shops, a nationally recognised art gallery, museum and visitor information centre.
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…
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!
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.
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!
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 kilometre 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.
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