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This South Island road journey is 370 kilometres long and has three legs - Waipara to Hanmer Springs along State Highway 7, Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura along State Highway 70 and Kaikoura to Waipara on State Highway 1. You can connect with the route from the north, south or west.
If it's your mission to unwind and reward yourself with indulgent experiences, the Alpine Pacific Triangle is a driving route made in heaven. You can start your journey at any of the key destinations - Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura or Waipara.
In the eco-tourism world, Kaikoura is known as a top place for marine mammal viewing. Once a sleepy little fishing village, the town is geared up to provide travellers with unforgettable, close-up encounters. You can see whales, dolphins and fur seals - you can even dive with sharks. Aside from the marine environment, Kaikoura has an astounding landscape - mountain ranges tower above the town, and in winter they're swathed with snow. The area's seafood delicacy, crayfish, is another reason to stay a while. Local restaurants provide seafood with a sea view.
If you want a quiet trip to Hanmer Springs, take State Highway 70. Traffic will be very light and the scenery is wildly beautiful. At Hanmer Springs, you'll be greeted by the trappings of a prosperous spa town. Against a backdrop of forested mountains, there are many options for active and passive relaxation. Mountain biking, hiking, jet boating and, for the courageous few, bungy jumping, will occupy your daytime hours. At night, everyone converges on the hot springs, to soak in naturally heated water. Facial and body treatments are available to put the finishing touches on your rejuvenation.
Waipara, the third destination in the triangle, is one of New Zealand's newest wine areas. Pinot Noir and Riesling are the favoured wine styles. Lunch at a winery is definitely on the agenda; locally produced hazelnuts, olive oil and lavender products will also tempt you. If you're in Waipara on a Sunday, you could catch the Weka Pass Railway. It runs on 14 kilometres of the original Hurunui-Bluff Main Trunk line, built in 1882.