The great alpine highway

From one half of the South Island to the other, this breathtakingly magnificent road will take you past lovely historic villages and spectacular changing scenery. Take your car or ride the rail and take in the ever-changing panorama. Travel west via the Canterbury river plains before climbing Arthur's Pass to cross the Alps and down to the West Coast.

Go New Zealand Go New Zealand 10 days ago
The great alpine highway

Day 1: Spend the day in Christchurch

Spend a day in Christchurch, the South Island's main city, which is always changing and funky. In this enduring city, old English gardens juxtapose with eccentric bars and a bustling art center. Hire a bike and pedal about the flat city center or take a vintage tram tour. Punting down the Avon River, biking in the Port Hills, visiting Sumner Beach, or taking a day excursion out to the French colonial settlement of Akaroa are all popular pastimes. The gorgeous patchwork of Canterbury Plains set against the Southern Alps makes this an excellent location for scenic flights, whether by helicopter or hot air balloon.

Port Hills
Port Hills
Port Hills, Cashmere, Christchurch, New Zealand

Day 2: Christchurch to Arthur's Pass

Travel west across the vast Canterbury Plains, which stretch as far as the eye can reach from north to south. The panorama varies frequently as the route snakes steadily up into the Southern Alps' foothills, passing through mountain passes, rivers, lakes, and distinctive geological characteristics. Castle Hill, just a short walk from the road, is home to old monolithic limestone rock formations. Climbers and photographers alike are drawn to these massive stones. Your halfway point to the West Coast is the small settlement of Arthur's Pass. It is the starting point for a variety of hiking trails through the Southern Alps, and it is nestled amid alpine grandeur.

Mount Bealey Road
Mount Bealey Road
Mount Bealey Road, Arthur's Pass, Canterbury, New Zealand

Day 3: Arthur's Pass to Greymouth

The magnificent Otira Viaduct, located not far from Arthur's Pass Village, traverses a long stretch of hazardous terrain. The terrain becomes greener as you descend toward the coast, with lush rainforests replacing the bleak eastern side of the split. You've arrived on the West Coast, a spectacular wilderness zone. Gold lured people to this wild shore in the late 1860s. Shantytown Heritage Park is a fascinating look back in time. Pounamu (New Zealand Jade), the region's other precious material, is on display in various studios and galleries. Greymouth, the West Coast's largest town, is noted for its spectacular seascapes, local beer tours, white-water rafting, and sea kayaking.

West Coast
West Coast
West Coast, New Zealand

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