Kaikoura to Christchurch

Leaving Kaikoura south on Route One after having stopped at the Kaikoura Winery on the hill the traveler will certainly enjoy the next few kilometres as one skirts the sea on a curving route carved from the hills along the steep sides. A glance over the edge will reveal a jumble of rock strewn along the ocean and several volcanic sand beaches. A lot of local divers stop in this area to swim out to hunt for the local lobster with high success rates. One of the most scenic ocean drives on the east Coast reminiscent of the drive along the upper west Coast south of Westport . It is a spectacular drive with quite a few places to pull over and take photos or stop for a break.

At the Kowhai River both sides there are good parking areas an especially large one on the south side with another one not too far along also on the ocean side. Take extreme care not to leave any trash. Kaikoura is working hard to be the top clean green image and it behooves all to be there in that respect. That is important everywhere really. In New Zealand a traveler can still pull off the road hundreds of places to stay the night but travelers are rapidly losing this privilege due to thoughtless visitors staying overnight in vehicles without any facilities (such as vans) and leaving their wastes behind. Not happy about finding toilet paper in the bush. One used to be able to drink straight from the streams and now it is impossible. If you rent a vehicle that is not self-contained stay in the parks where there are facilities. Don’t ****  in the woods or the streams or anywhere outside!   

A few kilometres south of Kaikoura  is a small airport with flights for whale watching and also a Holiday Park next door.. Another great place to freedom park is on the left before the Kahutara River . Also about 12 kilometres along there are several fabulous coastal camping sites. Go along to check in at Goose Bay just down the road a few kilometres on the right.

 After this coastal area the road turns inland away from the ocean and into the hills at Oaro.(six kilometres from Goose Bay) and up the twisting, turning hills. A few kilometres  the chance to take a 4 wheel adventure at Glenstrae Farm if so inclined.

Soon a sign announcing  arrival into the Hurinui District and some real sharp downhill curves to contend with. There are plenty of passing lanes available though so be courteous and get the cars and trucks off your back bumper. It’s good for everyone.

There are picnic spots and rest area at the bottom of the first hill. Fifteen kilometres from the initial climb from the ocean is the turnoff to Conway Flat and worth the five kilometre drive down the road to the ocean. A person won’t believe the trees. It is a great spot off the beaten path. Also right on the left after crossing the bridge is a gravel drive that cuts back under the bridge and provides a real nice parking spot. The train comes through at night though.

By now the road has reached the valley floor and most of the hills have been conquered this direction for awhile. It must be cold in this location in the winter with names such as Siberia Stream and Chilly Stream marking the local creeks. The road now enters North Canterbury at this point and it really starts to flatten out. The long flat roads give a break from the hill crunching just completed.

 The Leader Road turns west here towards Hanmer Springs and the Lewis Pass to the West Coast. This is the road recommended to Hanmer. It casually winds through the countryside without a great deal of effort and is more like following a farmer’s paddock lane. It is a good road with hardly any traffic and a shorter route to Hanmer than the one north of here most people take.

Right past Leader Road is the town of Parnassus where travelers are offered a free cup of coffee before continuing along Route One South. The next place one can stop is at the Waiau River where a parking area has been created on the south side of the river. On the north on the right is a old historic bridge where also they have provided a good parking spot. From January to March the salmon run this river and interrupt the local brown trout. 

 On south the next place of interest is the small town of Cheviot . Try to make the run through here so one can take the road to the left to Gore Bay a surfers hangout and a great place to camp next to the ocean with toilet and shower and electric available cheap. It is about 8kms to the spot. 

From here on south the road passes through large expanses of manicured farms bursting with sheep and cattle and the few deer farms. All of a sudden you enter Waipara Valley and the home of many of New Zealand’s top wineries and well worth a stop at a couple to sample the award winning wines.

The next stop is in the town of Amberley and the Nor’wester Café an absolutely fabulous food and coffee cafe. For a place to stay overnight take the road left to Amberley Beach where they have made available a very large area for campers to stay overnight providing toilets and limited electricity. Just for self-contained vehicles only.

 The next stop going south is Pukeko Junction a few kilometres south of Amberley. In the complex is one of the best wine shops and galleries in the country. If one wants to buy some of the local Waipara wines this is where the visitor can find most of them in one spot. Kevin, the owner, is very knowledgeable and extremely helpful in selecting the right wines for your taste.

From here on Route One is to the city of Christchurch and out to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula once a French settlement and now demonstrating the historical influence in the names and buildings. It is definitely worth the drive to see and experience.

Both Christchurch and Akaroa are covered independently beyond this.