Getting to Christchurch and Canterbury
Christchurch is the gateway to exploring all this region has to offer and getting here is easy via land, sea or air.
Christchurch Airport is New Zealand's second largest airport. As the gateway to the South Island, the airport services 11 different airlines connecting Christchurch with domestic centres and 11 international airports:
- Gold Coast
- Perth (seasonal)
- Rarotonga (seasonal)
- Hong Kong (seasonal)
Christchurch city centre is a short 20 minutes' drive from the airport and several transport options are available from the terminal including buses, 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 $8.50 one way and $15 return. All buses depart from the northern end of the International Arrivals Hall (exit through Door 9).
- Purple Line - Christchurch Airport to Sumner via Avonhead and Christchurch Central Station
- Route 29 - Christchurch Airport to City via Fendalton
- Route 125 - Redwood to Westlake via Christchurch Airport
The Metro bus service is a good way to travel around and familiarise yourself with Christchurch city and surrounds, with buses regularly departing from the Bus Interchange.
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.
Bus, Trains and Shuttles
Coastal Pacific scenic train departs from the seaside town of Picton, travelling through the stunning vineyards of Blenheim and along the breath-taking Kaikōura Coastline as you make your way through the idyllic Canterbury Plains to the Garden City of Christchurch.
Take a relaxing break and hop on the 7am from Christchurch before arriving mid-morning in Kaikōura, famous for its marine mammals and whale watching. Stay on a little longer and spend your afternoon among the vines of Blenheim, enjoying a drop of the world renowned, locally produced sauvignon blanc.
A journey on Coastal Pacific combined with the Interislander ferry it is the perfect way to connect between Wellington, Blenheim, Kaikōura and Christchurch.
Departing Picton at 2.15pm daily, the Coastal Pacific operates an extended summer season from September to late Autumn.
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 to Greymouth.
For a slice of the West Coast, TranzAlpine departs Christchurch daily at 8.15am. Spend the day exploring the beech forests and waterfalls at Arthur’s Pass. Carry on to Moana and enjoy a fishing excursion at Lake Brunner for a relaxing afternoon on the water.
The TranzAlpine departs daily from Christchurch at 8.15am and Greymouth at 2.05pm, enjoy this spectacular journey coast to coast year round.
Buses & shuttles
A good supply of buses and shuttles connect South Island towns and cities. Smaller destinations generally offer more of a specialised service whereas 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.
- Search all buses and shuttles
- Explore Metro Christchurch
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.
To check distance and driving times between destinations, click here.
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.