Ahhh the South Island, so serene, so much to discover and so much to explore! So buckle up (see what I did there?) as we are about to give you the low-down on one of the most picturesque drives in New Zealand, one that you won’t want to miss out on! Starting in Christchurch, the Garden City, you’ll wind your way down to Queenstown, stopping by Instagram-worthy lakes and if you get your timing right, maybe a sprinkle of snow! We give you the best places to stop and take in the sights!
A quaint little town, Ashburton has more to offer than meets the eye. Stop and smell the roses in the Ashburton Domain, visit the man-made Lake Hood, or pop into the Ashburton Aviation Museum. Feeling a bit peckish after a long day? The Lakehouse Restaurant & Bar is sure to please with it’s awesome position and views out across the lake.
2. Lake Tekapo
You’ll definitely want to have you camera ready for the next stop – Lake Tekapo! Discover the solar system at Earth & Sky, the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve and get lost through a telescope. If stargazing isn’t your thing, relax in the Tekapo Hot Springs overlooking the lake, visit the charming Church of the Good Shepherd or hike up Mount John.
3. Lake Pukaki
A crown jewel in the Lakes Region, Lake Pukaki in Aoraki is best known for it’s feature in The Hobbit Trilogy. With views of New Zealand’s tallest peak, Mount Cook in the background and bright turquoise waters, it’s everchanging landscape throughout the seasons means it’s another spot you can’t miss! Cycle or walk along the southern edge of the lake on the Long Pathway and admire the views or try your hand at salmon or trout fishing on the lakefront.
4. Lake Ohau
The fourth stop on your roadie is the epic Lake Ohau! In the summer, choose from one of the numerous walking tracks or mountain biking tracks, such as the Freehold Tracks, Tarnbrae Tracks and the totally instagrammable Lake Ohau Track. If you’re a snow lover, the Ohau Snow Fields make for an awesome day out!
5. Lake Hawea
Named after a Maori tribe, Lake Hawea lies in a glacial valley in the Queenstown-Lakes District. Looking for somewhere to stop for a snack or picnic during your roadie? This is it! Spot some fisherman and swimmers from the lakefront in summer, and admire the snow-capped mountains in winter.
Approximately a 15 minute drive from Lake Hawea lies the picturesque and quaint town of Wanaka. Relax on the lakefront, browse the local shops, visit the local wineries, or head up the mountains in winter, the list of things to do in Wanaka is never ending! If you’re in the area over Easter, the biennual Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow at Wanaka airport is incredible and attracts local and international visitors. If it's looking a little familiar, Wanaka's featured in several international films such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and A Wrinkle in Time.
A local treasure and picture-perfect town out of a storybook, Arrowtown has a rich history dating back to the gold rush era. Many heritage buildings line the main streets today, including the famous Remarkables Sweet Shop – not to be missed! The Lakes District Museum on Buckingham Street is a great place to visit if you’re looking to learn more about the area’s history, and a network of cycling and walking trails are nearby if outdoor activities are your thing! Only 25 minutes drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is an awesome place to end your roadie.
Well I guess that’s it folks! You’ve completed your Christchurch to Queenstown roadie and discovered the best of the Canterbury and Otago regions. With different activities throughout the seasons, the areas really do showcase the best of New Zealand and why we love our little country so much!