This coast-to-coast route traverses the Southern Alps – an incredible showcase of pristine mountains and rivers. Take your car or sit back and enjoy the ever-changing scenery by train.
From Christchurch, the 255-kilometre route follows State Highway 73 west across river plains before rising to traverse through Porters Pass and Arthur’s Pass National Park. Highlights include the impressive Waimakariri and Otira River gorges, driving along the Otira Viaduct and exploring natural wonders like the Castle Hill Rocks and Cave Stream Reserve. Once on the West Coast, you have the option to drive north to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.
Spend a day exploring fast-changing and funky Christchurch, the South Island's largest city. Old English gardens contrast with pop-up bars and container-based shopping malls in this enduring centre, which is rebuilding itself after a damaging earthquake in February 2011. Favourite activities include punting down the Avon River, biking in the Port Hills, visiting Sumner Beach, or taking a day trip out to the French colonial settlement of Akaroa.
Christchurch city promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. As the gateway to the South Island, it's a must on any itinerary.