Where to go from Picton

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Nov 26th, 2008, 02:07 PM
  #1
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Where to go from Picton

Hi there, I'm putting the finishing touches to a 4 week self drive tour of New Zealand and as usual have found the information on Fodors just brilliant. We arrive in NZ in January.
The bit I'm stuck on is the route to take and places to stop between Picton and Christchurch.

Wednesday cross from Wellington to Picton
Thursday ?
Friday ?
Saturday Christchurch

The obvious route appears to be via Blenheim and Kaikoura however driving via Nelson (Queen Charlotte Drive), Murchison and Hanmer Springs sounds wonderful. Or maybe via Blenheim and ST Arnaud.
Would welcome any comments you may have on the various routes and best places to break the journey.
I have allowed only 2 nights in Christchurch so maybe could arrive there a day earlier.
We then travel on the TranzAlpine to Greymouth, Franz Joseph, Queenstown, with an overnight on Milford Sound, 8 days in all.

Thanks and look forward to seeing your comments
alicat54 is offline  
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Nov 26th, 2008, 04:27 PM
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H alicat54 -

I've taken all of these routes and they all have their attractions.

If your main objective is to get to Christchurch, driving to Nelson, Murchinson and Hanmer Springs is way out of your way. If you're looking for some great scenery though, you'll certainly see some if you take this much longer route.

Queen Charlotte Drive is located between Picton and Havelock. You could easily take Queen Charlotte Drive from Picton, then rejoin Hwy 6 and head south towards Renwick (just outside of Blenheim).

The drive from Picton to Christchurch is about 4:15, but going via Queen Charlotte Drive would probably add a couple of hours, depending on stops.

If you're going to commit to the longer route, I'd suggest going whole hog and turning back on 65 just after Murchinson (which will take you back towards Christchurch via Lewis Pass).

A shorter option is to turn back prior to Murchinson on 63 and go through St Arnaud and on to Blenheim via the Wairau Valley. It's a nice drive, more country than mountains, but the scenery along the Buller is very pretty.

IMO the longest route is the prettiest, but you'll need to take a close look at drive times to see if it will work for you.


Melnq8 is offline  
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Nov 27th, 2008, 06:20 PM
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Do you want to drive most of the time to see as much of the scenery as possible from inside your car, or do you want to have the time to stop as and where you want to to do walks, etc? Depending on how busy or leisurely you want to be, I could suggest some alternatives for you.
kiwi_rob is offline  
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Dec 4th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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When we were in NZ four years ago we drove down the east coast from Blenheim to Kaikoura which is beautiful then drove inland to Hanmer Springs which is well worth a visit and is a lovely country drive. Then on to Christchurch all in one day with time for a swim in the hot spas. If you have time to stay in these places I would recommend it as they are wonderful sites.Sounds like a fantastic trip.
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Dec 4th, 2008, 06:37 PM
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I think that Queen Charlotte Drive, although pleasant enough, is not as spectacular as many claim it to be when compared with some of the other scenery on offer in the South Island. If you do the detour along Queen Charlotte through Havelock and then on down to Kaikoura through Blenheim, it will add quite a bit of time to your journey.

How about:

Wed -- Picton to Kaikoura direct through Blenheim

Thurs -- Kaikoura

Fri -- Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs (or Maruia Springs)via the inland route through Waiau

Sat -- Hanmer or Maruia to Christchurch via Lewis Pass (head towards Greymouth, turn left at Stillwater, travel through Moana to Jacksons, left at Jacksons and then on to Christchurch over Arthurs Pass).

That will give you some great coastal scenery down to Kaikoura (some winetasting at Blenheim on the way through if you are so inclined), both dry and rainforest alpine regions, the opportunity to indulge in Kaikoura's attractions, hot springs at Hanmer or Maruia to relax in , some magnificent West Coast bush ("forest" to Northern Hemisphere dwellers) and a drive across the Canterbury Plains on the way into Christchurch. The last day is a solid afternoon's drive, so allow most of the day if you want to have a few stops.
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