Gentle meandering this isn’t – it’s the road trip everyone wants to do, and you don’t want to do this 1,375km expedition in anything less than 5 days because there’s big scenery, big distances and big reasons to take your time.
Leaving Christchurch head to the West Coast via Arthurs Pass which doesn’t climb high but does cut through some impressive landscapes, then check you’ve got your fuel stops and your accommodation planned out before heading down the wild West Coast. Even mobile phone signals can’t be taken for granted down here and you’ll need to know your who has priority signs at the single lane river bridges you’ll encounter en route – yes on a State Highway.
There’s not one but two accessible glaciers you can visit at Fox and Franz Josef, before climbing the not insignificant Haast Pass and dropping down to the magnificent lakes at Wanaka. Now you’ve come this far you might as well carry on to the charming Arrowtown, (particularly picturesque in autumn), and then the tourist capital of Queenstown. If you’re not into your adventure sports there are plenty of high quality quieter alternatives such as boating, golf, vineyards and of course walks.
Returning is quite some drive through the Lindis Pass and then yet more crystal clear stunning lakes near Mount Cook and Tekapo. Mount Cook village offers the easy 3 hour return walk through the Hooker Valley to see the mountain up as close as you’d want to.
Head back to Christchurch via the charming small town of Geraldine and then take Scenic Highway 72 back where the Canterbury Plains run alongside the Southern Alps, before returning to all the activities, dining and culture available in Christchurch itself. That’s a memorable road trip.
Christchurch to Queenstown via the Three Passes Loop
Delights that await you...
Click through the gallery below to see just some of the delights that await you en route, many of which were taken on my own adventures, (you can probably spot those ones….)