ourdriveguide.co.nz Christchurch to Picton Self Drive Travel Guide

Drive Christchurch to Picton

Home  New Zealand  Drive NZ  Car Hire  Travel Guides  Itinerary  Accommodation  Attractions  Tour Guides Site Map

You are here ::  Home » Travel Guides » Drive Christchurch to » Picton

Christchurch to Picton
Canterbury Self Drive Travel Guide

Travel Information  Travel Facts
Distance: 343 km (214 miles )
Approximately: 5 hours 25 minutes
Road Conditions: State Highway 1

This guide sponsored by: Sponsor this Guide

Christchurch - Waipara - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Picton

Following State Highway 1 from Christchurch the obstacles are the Waimakariri, Ashley and Hurunui Rivers before the Hundallee Range and the Coastal drive to Kaikoura and on to Picton at the top of the South Island.

After crossing the Waimakariri we pass to the west of Kaiapoi 14kms north of the city as the road slowly climbs through open farmlands to Woodend and Amberley before meeting State Highway 7 from the Lewis Pass at Waipara, in the rolling North Canterbury Hills approximately 60kms from Christchurch.

Set at the southern end of the Greta Valley, Waipara has several wineries in the area, and the Weka Pass Steam train excursion. From January through to the end of March the train departs at 11.30am and 2pm, during the remainder of the year it runs on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month.


Christchurch - Waipara - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Picton

The highway climbs steadily up the Greta Valley crossing the Hurunui River just south of Domett and Cheviot. Gore Bay (15 minutes east of Cheviot), is a popular picnic, surf and safe swimming spot. There are no shops at Gore Bay but there are a number of Cafés in Cheviot and Domett.

From Cheviot it is about 70kms to Kaikoura crossing the Conway River as we wind through the Hundalee Hills before beginning the descent to the Coast line, and the settlements of Oraro, Goose Bay and Peketa along the rugged coast south of the Kaikoura Peninsular and township.


Christchurch - Waipara - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Picton

In Maori, "kai" means food, "koura" is Crayfish (lobster). But it is today not just the succulent seafood for which Kaikoura is known. Indeed it is watching the ocean mamals that has enhanced the entire experience of Kaikoura as a holiday / tourist mecca.

There are a plethora of things to do and sights to see around the township, kayaking, mountain biking, hunting and fishing, diving, dolphin and bird watching with Whale Watching by boat, plane or helicopter perhaps being the most popular.

Yet all that is before you begin to explore the history and culture of the people and region or take to any of the numerous walking tracks around the region or spend your time swiming or surfing.

Those succulent morsals provided by that rugged coastline and ocean can still be enjoyed in a number of good eateries after which there are many walks to enjoy as you take in all that is Kaikoura, from the plentiful seafood, to all the scenic beauty and wonder. A must stop is the Visitor center on the waterfront.


Christchurch - Waipara - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Picton

Crossing the Hapuku River State Highway 1 passes through the pastoral plains north of Kaikoura to a popular surfing stop at Mangamaunu Bay. From here the road hugs the winding corridor along the coast line as we pass through Waipapa Bay, at Ohau Point there is a lookout over the seal colony which is worth viewing.

The road continues its winding passage north along the coast line through a number of settlements crossing the Waima and Clarence Rivers to Seddon in the Awatere Valley. Here the scenery is dominated by the foothills of the Inland Kaikoura range as the mountains rise behind to over 2800metres.

Crossing the Dashwood Pass brings us out of the Awatere Valley into the rich Marlborough pastoral and agricultural region where many of New Zealand's top wineries produced excellent wines and ciders.


Christchurch - Waipara - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Picton

At the junction of the Opawa and Omaka Rivers, Blenheim sits where James Sinclair first built a hut in 1852, owing it's initial existence to the proximity to ford and landing place for crossing the rivers. The town originally owed it's prosperity to the regions suitability for sheep farming.

Today the township is a center for the surrounding wine producing territory, with a number of interesting places to visit including the Museum and Blenkinsopp's cannon situated near Seymour Park.


Christchurch - Waipara - Kaikoura - Blenheim - Picton

The short drive to north from Blenheim passes through the heart of wine-growing Marlborough, takes you across the Wairau Plains past vineyards and wineries. Now we must resist that temptation to sample, so no drinking without a designated sober driver.

Picton Township (to the right), the Bluebridge Ferry, Monte Stello in port (center foreground),
at left the InterIslander, Kaitaki at sea.


Welcome to Picton - enjoy your stay

This Guide last Updated: February 2011.


Driving Distance and Times


The distances and times are based on travel at an average of 80 to 90kmph in good weather and light to medium traffic, allowing for a break of 10 minutes from driving in each full hour.

Allow extra time for:
Sight seeing, Heavier traffic conditions, Inclement weather and any other needs you have.

There are many factors beyond the authors and our control that can and will impact upon the true distance travelled and time taken to complete any journey.

text and images copyright © ourdriveguide.co.nz