Touring Routes

The Canterbury region has four key touring routes: Alpine Pacific Triangle, Canterbury Pacific Highway, Great Alpine Highway, and the Inland Scenic Route. 

ALPINE PACIFIC TRIANGLE - Linking Christchurch, Hanmer Springs & Kaikoura

Passing through: Kaikoura, Cheviot, Waipara, Amberley, Culverden, Waiau.

Alpine Pacific Triangle


Discover the Alpine Pacific Triangle, one of the most varied and scenic regions in New Zealand. Experience the charm of Hanmer Springs, New Zealand’s alpine spa village, the indulgence of award-winning wine and cuisine in the Waipara Valley Wine Region and the dramatic landscapes and up close encounters with whales in Kaikoura.The Alpine Pacific Triangle unfolds a rich tapestry of experiences and in addition to outstanding scenery, the hospitable country towns provide an absorbing glimpse into New Zealand’s rural environment and lifestyle.The entire touring route is 370 kilometres, beginning at Amberley at its southern end just 45 minutes’ drive from Christchurch, and at its northern end from Kaikoura. At almost every turn, exciting vistas unfold – pastoral hill country, mountains, rivers, forests, lakes, seascapes, limestone formations and hot springs.


CANTERBURY PACIFIC HIGHWAY - State Highway One from Kaikoura to Timaru

Passing through: Cheviot, Amberley, Christchurch, Rolleston, Rakaia, Ashburton, Hinds, Temuka.

State Highway 1 Logo


An ever-changing scenic highway along the South’s eastern coast. At Kaikoura, see sperm whales up close or swim with the dolphins. Walk mountain, forest or coastal trails. Savour fresh crayfish (lobster) at roadside cafes. In Waipara Valley savour award-winning vintages at the many wineries. From Waikuku to Spencer Park the sandy beaches and river estuaries offer sheltered camping areas. Ashburton offers quality shopping, many delightful gardens, heritage museums and art galleries. Visit the Vintage Car Club & Motor Museum, The Plains Railway & Historical Village, the Aviation Museum and Lynn’s Historical Woodworking Trust. Venture inland to high country lakes and Mt Hutt Ski Area, or go jet boating, rafting or hot air ballooning. Temuka is renowned for its pottery and ceramics while nearby is the site of Richard Pearse’s famous first powered flight. Discover the Pleasant Point transport museum and Model T Railcar and the outstanding examples of Maori rock art. The heritage buildings of Timaru are complemented by its rose gardens, art galleries and contemporary piazza with views over beautiful Caroline Bay.


GREAT ALPINE HIGHWAY - Linking Christchurch to the West Coast via Arthurs Pass 

Passing through: Sheffield, Springfield, Arthurs Pass, Otira, Jacksons and Kumara

Great Alpine Highway

At first the Great Alpine Highway rises almost invisibly as it crosses the sun-drenched Canterbury Plains, the patchwork of farms, racehorse studs and boutique vineyards before climbing into the high country. The road parallels the route of the TranzAlpine, one of the world’s great train journeys, as they both ascend the Southern Alps. Along the route are delightful rural towns and villages. The high country is an artist’s canvas with its tussocklands, its lakes and rivers, its Tolkein-like landscapes and its limestone formations. There are caves to explore, mountain trails to hike or bike, and fascinating history to uncover about the construction of the early railroad and highway over Arthur’s Pass (920m) to the wild West Coast.


INLAND SCENIC ROUTE 72 - Amberley to Winchester following the foothills of the Southern Alps

Passing through: Rangiora, Oxford, Rakaia Gorge, Staveley, Mount Somers, Mayfield, Geraldine

ISR72 Logo

  Take a relaxing journey through heartland New Zealand. Visit thriving country towns, see early colonial architecture, historic churches and fascinating country museums. In addition to traditional farming, the area produces boutique cheeses, truffles, saffron, olives and mead. You’ll discover delightful picnic and camping places including Ashley Gorge as well as many hospitable bed & breakfasts and farmstays. Cross Canterbury’s largest river at spectacular Waimakariri Gorge before entering an outstanding outdoor playground. Fish for trout and salmon in the Rakaia River or the high country lakes, including Lake Coleridge, site of New Zealand’s earliest hydro power station, still operating. Tee off at Terrace Downs golf resort, lift off on a hot air balloon safari or take to the slopes at Mt Hutt Ski Area. Raft white-water on the Rangitata. Explore historic sheep runs, like Mesopotamia and Erewhon, and at Geraldine wander through beautiful woodlands and gardens and savour locally produced food and beverages.

Click here to view a Canterbury map showing the above Touring Routes

Click here to view Distance Guides for the above Touring Routes

Driving in New Zealand can be very different to driving at home.

We drive on the left-hand side here, some of our roads are narrow, windy and have loose gravel… and it’s not unusual to see sheep or cattle on roads in rural areas. You need to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, and to understand New Zealand road rules and signs. For morre information, please visit DriveSafe.