Getting to Christchurch and Canterbury

Airports

Christchurch Airport

Christchurch Airport is New Zealand's second largest airport and boasts all new terminals as of mid-2013. As the gateway to the South Island, the airport services 9 different airlines connecting Christchurch with domestic centres and 10 international airports:

  • Bangkok
  • Brisbane
  • Dubai
  • Gold Coast, Australia
  • Melbourne
  • Nadi
  • Perth
  • Singapore
  • Sydney
  • Tokyo

Christchurch city centre is a short 15 minutes' drive from the airport and several transport options are available from outside the terminal including rental cars, taxis and shuttles.

Buses from Christchurch Airport

Regular Metro bus services connect the airport to the city centre and many other locations in Christchurch. The Purple Line and Route 29 buses go via the city centre. You can buy your tickets from the driver. Tickets cost $8 one way and $14 return. All buses depart from outside the far end of the international arrivals terminal.

Richard Pearse Airport, Timaru

Located 15 minutes from the town of Timaru, Air New Zealand Link operates out of Richard Pearse Airport and connects Timaru with 26 other domestic towns and cities including Auckland and Wellington.

Sea - Cook Strait crossings

Ferries have been Kiwis' favourite way of crossing Cook Strait for more than 50 years. 5 vessels connect the ports of Wellington and Picton, 3 with the Interislander and 2 with Bluebridge.

The journey takes 3 hours and up to 15 crossings are made per day. You can drive your car or campervan onto the ferry or time your crossing with the departure of the Coastal Pacific train making for a seamless transition from the North Island to Christchurch and Canterbury.

Land

KiwiRail Scenic Journeys

KiwiRail Scenic Journeys combine world class scenery and a modern rail system to connect Christchurch and Canterbury with neighbouring regions Marlborough and the West Coast.

TranzAlpine

The TranzAlpine traverses through the Southern Alps connecting the South Island's east and west coasts. Following the Waimakariri River through the Canterbury Plains and eventually climbing into the Southern Alps, the TranzAlpine stops in Arthur's Pass before passing through the Otira tunnel and continuing on to Greymouth.

The TranzAlpine departs daily from Christchurch at 8.15am and Greymouth at 1.45pm, enjoy the idyllic surrounds from the comfort of newly refurbished carriages all year round.

Coastal Pacific

The Coastal Pacific winds its way along the east coast of the South Island between Christchurch and the port-town of Picton. The Coastal Pacific stops in 9 towns along its route including Kaikoura - a world-renowned whale watching location. Kaikoura is located amongst 98 kilometres of coastline and boasts fresh seafood and daily whale and dolphin watching excursions.

Operating throughout an extended summer period (27 September - 4 May) the Coastal Pacific departs daily from Christchurch at 7.00am and Picton at 1.00pm.

Buses & shuttles

A seemingly endless supply of buses and shuttles connect South Island towns and cities. Smaller destination based operators such as Akaroa Shuttles offer a specialised service where as larger multi-destination services travel to a wide range of towns, cities and communities. 

When planning your trip, keep in mind that buses and shuttles often work around other major transport providers such as Cook Strait ferries or KiwiRail Scenic Journeys.

Rental cars & campervans

For the do-it-yourself types, rental cars and/or campervans are a great way of accessing Christchurch and Canterbury. Although Canterbury is a large and diverse region, an extensive network of highways makes it ideal for touring by motor vehicle.

Christchurch International Airport is centrally located in Canterbury and hosts a wide variety of campervan and car rental companies.

Canterbury travel times

Driving times (in hours and minutes) are approximate and allow for leisurely travel and regular stops.

Akaroa
5.25 Aoraki / Mount Cook
3.15 6.20 Arthur's Pass
2.25 3.30 1.05 Ashburton
1.20 4.40 2.25 1.15 Christchurch
3.40 2.00 0.55 1.20 2.25 Fairlie
3.40 6.20 4.05 3.10 1.50 4.20 Hanmer Springs
3.40 6.50 4.40 3.50 2.25 4.55 1.55 Kaikoura
3.30 1.15 4.30 1.45 2.55 0.30 4.30 5.05 Lake Tekapo
1.55 3.20 2.55 0.30 1.20 1.30 2.55 3.30 2.00 Methven
3.15 2.50 3.20 1.05 2.25 0.55 4.05 4.40 1.20 1.30 Timaru
4.15 0.50 4.40 2.30 3.40 1.15 5.15 5.50 0.45 2.45 2.05 Twizel
3.25 2.35 3.55 1.40 2.50 1.10 4.25 5.00 1.43 2.00 0.35 1.50 Waimate