Inland Scenic Route 72


475 km


  • Horse riding in Oxford
  • Fishing, Rakaia River
  • Skiing or hiking



The Inland Scenic Route 72 showcases some of the best of what Canterbury has to offer. Taking in the South Island's largest city, Christchurch and many of Canterbury's loveliest towns, this 6-day itinerary is a great way to discover the Canterbury region.

Day 1: Christchurch to Oxford

Christchurch - Canterbury
Oxford, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Visit Waimakariri

Christchurch - Canterbury


Horse riding and farmstays


  • Horse riding in Oxford
  • Farmstays
  • Oxford Forest walking trails


  • By car: 50 min | 56 km via Tram Road to Route 72

Begin this journey with a short drive from Christchurch to Oxford that takes you through the heartland of Canterbury's farming industry.

Around the country town of Oxford, there are farmstays and horse riding opportunities. Staying on a farm is the ultimate way to appreciate country life - you can help with daily tasks and enjoy the generous, farmhouse-kitchen hospitality of a local family. Oxford Forest is a popular spot for walks and picnics and the Ryde Falls Walk is an easy excursion.

Day 2: Oxford to Methven

Christchurch - Canterbury
Mount Hutt, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Christchurch - Canterbury


Skiing and walking trails


  • Mount Hutt ski field
  • Mount Somers walkway
  • Whitewater rafting


  • By car: 1 h | 78 km via SH77

Your journey into the Southern Alps will depend on the time of the year that you're here.

In winter and spring, Mount Hutt ski field has some of the most reliable snow conditions in New Zealand and the nearby town of Methven, fairly fizzes with après ski activities. Once snow levels recede, hiking begins. Make it your mission to complete the Mount Somers Walkway - a ten-hour return trip that takes you to historic coal mines, impressive volcanic formations and a deep river canyon. Climb to the top for spectacular views.

Rakaia Gorge is a popular jet boating spot with waterfalls, hair-raising rapids and amazing alpine scenery. Or try whitewater rafting on the Rangitata River.

Day 3: Methven to Geraldine

Christchurch - Canterbury
Geraldine in Autumn, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Go Geraldine

Christchurch - Canterbury


Art, craft and boutique shopping


  • Boutique shopping
  • Ski fields
  • Arts and crafts


  • By car: 49 min | 69 km via Route 72

A short drive from Methven is the charming town of Geraldine, which offers clear mountain views, beautiful walks and a vibrant boutique-shopping village. If you're here in winter, Geraldine is a great base for accessing the region's ski fields with eight located within two hours' drive.

Things to do around the town include the Geraldine Historical Society Museum and the highly regarded vintage car and machinery museum. Geraldine is also the start of the Starlight Highway which runs through to Lake Tekapo and the International Dark Sky Reserve. Geraldine is home to one of New Zealand's best privately run observatories.

Day 4: Geraldine to Ashburton

Christchurch - Canterbury
Canals Ashburton District, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Tony Bridge

Christchurch - Canterbury


Museums and fishing


  • Art and craft galleries
  • Trout and salmon fishing


  • By car: 38 min | 51 km via SH1

Today you'll make your way to Ashburton, a large town that serves the surrounding farming district.  Ashburton sits between two major rivers, so fly-fishing is the local obsession. Both of the nearby rivers are known for salmon and sea-run trout. The average salmon catch is 6 to 8 kilograms, but 15 kilograms isn't out of the question.

If you're a lover of museums, you'll find plenty to do here, Ashburton boasts a total of six museums, including a vintage railway museum, aviation museum and car museum. There are also plenty of local art and craft galleries to browse.

Day 5: Ashburton to Akaroa

Christchurch - Canterbury
Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Tony Bridge

Christchurch - Canterbury


French culture and wildlife encounters


  • French cuisine & historic buildings
  • Penguin colony
  • Swim with dolphins


  • By car: 1 h 53 min | 141 km via SH1 & SH75

Travel north from Ashburton to the charming seaside town of Akaroa.

The most French town in New Zealand, Akaroa will have you entranced with its historic buildings, magnificent harbour and passion for fine food. Visit local restaurants with their focus on French cuisine and take a self-guided walk to see historic cottages. Be sure to visit the museum - it tells the story of Akaroa with displays and an audio-visual presentation.

If you have time, take a harbour cruise to view dolphins, rare penguins and fur seals.

Day 6: Akaroa to Christchurch

Christchurch - Canterbury
Shopping in Christchurch City, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Christchurch - Canterbury


Shopping, art, great food & stunning scenery


  • Cardboard cathedral
  • Punting on the Avon River
  • Botanical gardens


  • By car: 1 h 18 min | 82 km via SH75

Once back in Christchurch, take the time to find out what makes this ever-evolving city unique. Christchurch is brimming with innovativeness and creativity. The city boasts a wide selection of diverse restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs.

And of course Christchurch's iconic activities are still a favourite, showing off its old-English charm. Visit the stunning botanic gardens, enjoy a relaxing punt on the Avon River, and ride the historic tram.

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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