New Zealand has three main routes through the Southern Alps of the South Island. If you’re coming from the Northern region, near Nelson you’ll be driving between the valleys via Lewis Pass — an absolutely spectacular drive!
This post is just a small chapter of our extended road trip throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Make sure to check out our whole trip and detailed itinerary within the main post!
Continuing our 6 week road trip through New Zealand, we’d now passed our halfway mark, following our few nights in Abel Tasman. Our next accommodation stop was in Hanmer Springs; a cute alpine town with great scenery!
New Zealand really doesn’t disappoint with places to stretch your legs during long road trips. You can pretty much guarantee that you’ll always have a lookout view, or a short walk, along your route.
Right in the middle of Lewis Pass, we did the short loop walk around St James’ walkway. Another place that would be great to stop off on the way to Hanmer Springs, would be Lake Rotoiti, which we did last year. It’s a bit of detour, but I would say the views are definitely worth it.
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The route into Hanmer Springs involves crossing a canyon via a very picturesque bridge. About 30 seconds around the corner, you’ll find a small viewpoint giving great views back to the bridge you’ve just crossed. Catch it during the golden hour and you’ll get stunning lighting right along the mountain line!
Hanmer Springs is an alpine resort town, known for its thermal pools and spas. It has a busy village feel to it, with cute cafes and great looking restaurants.
We stayed at the boutique lodge 8 on Oregon, that boasts great views of the mountains in the distance. We were lucky with the weather on the night we arrived, as the sky exploded giving us an incredible sunset.
Another great viewpoint in Hanmer Springs would be the Conical Hill walk, which is a short, but steep, 30 minute walk. The start of the walk was right near our accommodation and you could even hire out bikes, if you wanted to explore the tracks at a different pace.
A two hour drive to the East, gets you to Kaikoura; a coastal town known for its wildlife and sperm whale population.
Kaikoura is the place to see whales, dolphins and seals via boat or helicopter in New Zealand. Plus, you’ll have an incredible mountainous backdrop too!
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too great around the time we visited, so we didn’t get to experience seeing the wildlife. But luckily we had seen dolphins in our other stops in New Zealand in the Bay of Islands and Auckland.
Whilst in Kaikoura, we stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast, Austin Heights. It’s located out on the peninsular, with great views of the town and close proximity to some ocean walks.
Next stop: Christchurch
From time to time I briefly mention about food on this blog, so I thought I’d do a quick mention about Flat White Cafe Bar. It’s in Pegasus which is a small town just before Christchurch, when travelling from Kaikoura.
If you ever find yourself stopping off in Pegasus, then I’d highly recommend having the Creamy Mushroom, as it was amazing 🙌🏻
I can see why this is their most popular dish. I’m just salivating thinking about it again, it was that good.
Follow our 6 week New Zealand road trip itinerary—including accommodation and activities across the North and South Islands—starting with a flight from Brisbane to Auckland with Air New Zealand.
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