Road tripping from Picton to Christchurch – the alternative route

If you are staying with us at the Picton Yacht Club Hotel before making your way south towards Christchurch and beyond, there are a few things you need to know following the powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit the South Island and lower North Island in November. Since the earthquake hit, the road heading south down SH1 from Picton towards Kaikoura has been closed and will remain that way for the considerable future as work is carried out to repair the road and make it safe for people to travel on.

If you were planning on visiting Kaikoura though, fear not! The alternative inland route is a great way to see a different side of New Zealand’s South Island and will still give you the opportunity to visit Kaikoura from the west.

Taking the alternative route

The alternative route from Picton to Christchurch will take you on the Inland road, heading west at Blenheim (following a visit to the vineyards of course!) down SH63 before heading south at Murchison down to Springs Junction and heading back east towards the coast at Springs Junction along SH7. At Waiau, you can then decide whether to head up to Kaikoura or carry on your journey south to Christchurch.

Whilst the inland route may take you longer than heading straight down SH1 to Kaikoura and on to Christchurch, we think it’s well worth the detour and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have not only pulled together an awesome map of the alternative route, highlighting all the great places to visit along the way, they’ve also created this awesome video to give you more of an insight into what you can expect. Check out what Kenneth gets up to as he travels down the alternative route from Picton to Christchurch:

Hopefully you will have allowed time in your trip for a stopover in Picton. Lots of people road tripping around New Zealand catch the ferry across from Wellington and pass through Picton but there is so much to do in and around the town that it’s worth adding a couple of days to your trip. The Marlborough Region is absolutely stunning and if you are a fan of the outdoors then this is the place for you.

After a couple of days exploring Picton and the Marlborough area, it’s time to head south towards Christchurch. Check out the DOC map below for some great ideas of places to stop off on the way. We’ve picked out a couple of our favourites:

Picton to Christchurch the alternative route
There are some great stop off points between Picton and Christchurch. Map courtesy of DOC

Lake Rotoiti

The iconic Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park
The iconic Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park

Situated in the Nelson Lakes National Park, Lake Rotoiti is one of the most photographed lakes in New Zealand. You may have seen the beautiful picture below of the pier extending out into the lake with the mountains in the background – pretty stunning! There are heaps of walks in the area so be sure to check out the DOC website for more information.

Maruia Falls Track (10 minute return)

The stunning Maruia Falls
The stunning Maruia Falls

Created following the 1929 earthquake, the Mariua Falls are easily accessed from the car park which is found 23 kms south of Murchison. The falls are pretty spectacular and this is a great place for a spot of lunch.

There are of course lots more options depending on your levels of fitness and how much time you have to spare on your way down south. Be sure to check out the DOC site for full details of all the great stop off points along the way.

Lots of options

As you head back east towards the coast, you will have plenty of options depending on your schedule and you can head to Hanmer Springs for a night relaxing in the hot pools under the stars, carry on to Kaikoura where you can swim with dolphins or head on to the beautiful city of Christchurch.

Hopefully this helps you to plan your trip south from Picton to Christchurch but be sure to leave plenty of time to explore Picton before you leave!

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