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The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary from Christchurch to Nelson

18th Dec 12

The South Island of New Zealand is known for its stunning scenery and wildlife - making it a popular destination for road trips and scenic tours. There are a number of destinations worth visiting in the South Island - but if you only have a few days to spare, a three-day trip from Christchurch to Nelson is the perfect way to fit in good food, wine, scenery and adventure experiences all in one trip!

The road from Christchurch to Nelson is paved with exciting stops, activities and destinations. With a total distance 438 km and an approximate driving time of 6 hours, you can do the whole trip in a day, or take your time; we recommend three days as enough time to see the many stops along the way. Read on to discover our top picks!  


Just out of Christchurch, you'll come across the town of Amberley - a service centre for local farmers and wine growers. Make sure you check out their local cafes and craft stops, or Amberly Beach as you're passing through.  

Maruia River Lodge and Café  

If you find yourself in need of refreshments during your trip, the Maruia River Lodge and Café is the perfect stop. Located halfway between Nelson and Christchurch, they offer coffee, fine food and New Zealand wines with a picturesque country backdrop.  

Hanmer Springs  

As you're driving north of Christchurch on State Highway 1, turning off at Waipara will take you through the Greta Valley to Hanmer Springs. This alpine village offers jet boating, bungy jumping, mountain biking and skiing in the winter months. And don't forget to try their famous thermal pools in a beautifully landscaped setting!  

The Lewis Pass  

Travelling north from Hanmer Springs on the way to Nelson, you'll have the opportunity to see the stunning mountains and scenery of the Lewis Pass.


This little town is home to a number of scenic walking tracks - making it a great place to get out and stretch your legs after a few hours driving!  


After Reefton, you'll find the town of Westport. While you're stopped at this little coal-mining town, make sure you take advantage of their underground rafting, caving and jet boat experiences.  


As you leave Westport, your next stop before Nelson will be Murchison. You can stop here to see the Buller River and try out some of the best white-water kayaking and rafting in the country! Or if you'd rather stay dry, have a walk across New Zealand's longest swing bridge, at 110 metres long and 17 metres high.


Once you've arrived at your destination, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches, fishing, boat trips, skydiving, 4WD bike treks, restaurants, wineries and more!  

As you can see, there's more than enough to see and do on your trip from Christchurch to Nelson. The best way to ensure you can travel at your own pace is by getting an affordable, comfortable campervan from Sunrise Holidays Campervan Hire. Book today so you don't miss out!

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Filed under Christchurch Travel Guide

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