The Alpine Pacific Touring Route encompasses three of Canterbury’s best recreation destinations and unique environments.
Christchurch to Hanmer Springs via Waipara Valley
Drive: 90 minutes, 135km
Depart Christchurch and head your way north to the Waipara Valley, one of New Zealand's premier wine regions famous for its unique landscape and valleys.
Stop by Pegasus Bay Winery, overlooking the rolling hills, to taste some of the region's delectable wines and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Here you will have a total food and wine experience with an emphasis on freshness and simplicity.
Head back south to the State Highway 7 turnoff and continue further into the Hurunui region, joining the Waiau River as you near Hanmer Springs. Jet the length of the spectacular Waiau Gorge with Hanmer Springs Attractions. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can wrestle the rapids on a white-water rafting trip, or tackle river crossings, mud, dust and dirt on a four-wheel quad bike.
End your first day at New Zealand’s premier alpine spa destination, the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa. Experience a wide range of activities, from soothing indulgence to exciting family fun. Enjoy the rock and sulphur pools and a popular family activity area - complete with water slides.
At the beautifully historic Heritage Hanmer Springs or the elegantly styled St James.
Hanmer Springs to Kaikōura
Drive: 2 hours, 130km
Leave Hanmer Springs the way you came, following the Waiau River and through the Inland Scenic Route, until you approach the picturesque seaside village of Kaikōura. Explore the maritime vibes of Kaikōura's main street before getting up close and personal with Kaikōura's sea life.
Whale Watch Kaikōura
Whale Watch Kaikōura conducts daily tours observing sperm, blue and humpback whales (to name a few), in their natural habitat, while Encounter Kaikōura offer the opportunity to swim with dolphins and explore albatross colonies.
Be sure to sample nature's ocean larder while in Kaikōura. Enjoy local produce with a delicious seafood feast at The Pier Hotel. Or for a truly iconic Kaikōura experience, check out the famous Nins Bin, offering organic crayfish from a caravan just 20 minutes north of the township.
For a chance to stretch the legs and view some amazing scenery, try out one of the many Kaikōura coastal walks. Observe seals and seabirds, explore historic pā and whaling sites and enjoy clifftop views of the sea and mountains. Or dive into some local history at the Kaikōura Museum, home to numerous interesting, quirky and uniquely Kaikōura exhibits.
Stay: At The White Morph, or for something extra luxurious, Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses.
Kaikōura returning to Christchurch
Drive: 2.5 hours, 203km
Beginning your final day, savour the first 23 kilometres' on your drive before the road peels away from the coast. Traverse the Hundalee Hills as you make your way south to Cheviot and the Two Rivers Gallery & Café, a tastefully converted garage with an extensive art collective inside and a native garden outside.
Instead of continuing on the main road, take a left at McQueen Street to Gore Bay, one of the region's most underrated assets. This hidden paradise boasts incredible surf, a rugged beach and limited cellphone reception, adding to the sense of escape. From here take the Tweedies Gully walk up through the bush where your reward is The Cathedrals, partially eroded siltstone pillars that look out over the bay.
While travelling back on the main road, stop for one last wine and food fix at the award winning Black Estate winery, a family-run vineyard, cellar door and restaurant.
Make your way back through Amberley to Christchurch, reminiscing on the great times you've had on the Alpine Pacific Touring Route.