Strewn with some of the most stunning natural marvels in the world, the road trip from Christchurch to Greymouth is known to be a particularly scenic one. Traversing the Southern Alps, the trip is an incredible tapestry of rivers and mountains.
After soaking up the delights of Christchurch – the Garden City – including a visit to its museums, art galleries, wildlife parks, and gardens, you can opt for car rental in Christchurch and set off on this journey of a lifetime.
Setting out from Christchurch, you will encounter the sweeping Canterbury Plains that stretch as far as the eye can see. Later, the road slowly meanders up into the foothills of the Southern Alps. Witness dramatically changing vistas as you drive over a mountain pass, past lakes, ski fields, across a river, and other distinct geological features.
The ancient limestone rock formations at Castle Hill are a must-see and are loved by most visitors, be they expert rock-climbers, or just ordinary folks seeking some breathtaking views and great photo opportunities.
Arthur’s Pass Village is the halfway point to the West Coast. This sleepy, alpine hamlet is a starting point for several walking trails through the Southern Alps. Tourists may choose from a range of walks, from leisurely ambles to three day treks depending on their ages, abilities, and interests. Do keep a look-out for the Kea - the world’s only alpine parrot that can only be found in this area.
The Otira lookout is just 5km up the road from Arthur's Pass Village. Spanning a long stretch of unstable terrain – that you might recognise from TV commercials - is the Otira Viaduct, a phenomenal engineering feat over a unique landscape.
Once you reach the West Coast, the vegetation turns greener and verdant rainforests are seen in place of the barren eastern side of the divide. This region is home to some of New Zealand’s best native forests and wildlife.
Greymouth, the largest town in the West Coast region, is particularly known for its splendid seascapes. Opt for tours run by the local brewery or learn about West Coast history at the museum. Adventure-buffs might wish to try white water rafting and sea kayaking here.
From Greymouth, it is worthwhile taking the 35 minute drive north to explore the rugged coastline that leads to Punakaiki and its intriguing limestone formations known as the Pancake Rocks.