Experience 450km of southern beauty on the Alpine Pacific Touring Route, winding past wineries, thermal pools, and of course whales, seals and dolphins.
Starting in Christchurch, head north for a few hours on SH1, past surf beaches, wineries, into the wide-open plains of North Canterbury, and the coastal ranges. Your destination: Kaikōura. Here, spend some time getting up close and personal with the area's abundant marine life - see the whales, or try and swim with dusky dolphins. And no trip to this town is complete without lunch of fresh crayfish at one of the seafood kiosks dotting the coastline.
Two hours away, you'll find the alpine spa village of Hanmer Springs. It has long been a place to relax - since 1859, in fact - with thermal hot pools, springs and spas enjoyed to the sound of native birds. When you can bear to leave the water, wander around the quaint town, or work up a sweat (or your appetite) in Hanmer Forest Park, which dates back to 1901, when prison labour was used to plant the trees.
The moment has come to start your trip back to Christchurch. But it's worth leaving early and allowing plenty of time to enjoy the nearby Waipara wine region (responsibly, as always). Pinot noir and riesling are the region's specialty but the pinot gris, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are also certainly worth a taste. If you want to extend your trip, don't just drive by the little towns along SH1 - stop and meet the locals in the likes of Culverden, Hurunui and Amberley.
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And don't forget to make the most of Christchurch's own beauty, whether you want a punt on the Avon River or a gentle stroll around the botanic gardens, a slice of the lively art scene or a taste of the city's impressive restaurant and bar culture.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com