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Which route to take - to/from Kaikoura

Old Feb 12th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Which route to take - to/from Kaikoura

Hello:

First time posting in the NZ forum. I have been following the discussions and trip reports here which are invaluable to my itinerary planning. I have a couple questions regarding routes:

1. We will be leaving from Springfield area to Kaikoura. Which route is more scenic or interesting after Waipara? via Chaviot? or the inland route via Waiau?

2. The next day, we will leave from Kaikoura to our accommodation outside of Motueka. We originally planned to take the Queen Charlotte Drive. However, I was advised that the inland route after Blenheim (Wairau valley and north from Saint Arnaud) is faster and easier. I looked at some images on Google and start to lean towards taking the inland route. Are we missing a lot by not taking the Queen Charlotte Drive?

Thank you very much for your advice!
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Old Feb 12th, 2015, 06:21 PM
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1) They're both good options - the route via Cheviot is more straightforward as it follows SH 1 - it's less winding and will provide access to the coastline should you want to get off the highway and find a beach or decide to explore in route. Just south of Cheviot you'll find Hurunui Mouth, Cathedral Cliffs and Manuka Bay, all nice detours with lovely views. You'll also pass through the Hundalee Hills and there are many options to just follow random roads at will.

In Amberley, you might want to make the short drive down to the beach and have a meal at the Nor'Wester - good food.

The inland route via Waiau is also scenic, but in a different way - it follows the Waiau river through rolling countryside, and agricultural land. It's more narrow and winding and can be adversely affected in poor weather. You'll also pass by Mt Lyford (skifield).

2) Queen Charlotte Drive provides some pretty dramatic views of the sounds....on a pretty day they are incredible..should the weather be less than ideal, it can be disappointing. It's a great way to see some of the sounds, especially if you won't be seeing them otherwise.

It's very narrow and winding, and passes through several small communities and you can easily detour to Anakiwa, one end of the QCT. I've always found the section of road near Linkwater kind of dull, but that's a very small part of the drive. This route will also take you through the forested Mount Richmond - the section of road through from the Rai Valley and Nelson is pretty windy as well. Do call in at Forresters Café at Mt Richmond if you have time.

Although entirely different, I also like the inland route through the Wairau Valley, particularly in autumn when the leaves of the trees (willows?) alongside the river are changing.

I'm not a fan of the St Arnaud area, but the drive becomes more interesting as you approach the Buller River.

I absolutely adore the section between Kohatu and Motueka via the Motueka Valley Highway. Once again, especially in autumn or summer when the hops are growing (this section also described in the link below).

I'd be more concerned about travel time than anything - for what it's worth, it took us 8 hours to make the drive from Picton to Motueka - it'll be longer coming from Kaikoura.

So, even though it's the shorter route, it's not all that short, which might be the deciding factor.

Here's a description of the drive from my most recent visit in Sept 2014:

http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...uth-island.cfm
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Old Feb 13th, 2015, 09:57 AM
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Melnq8:

Thank you very much for your detailed reply! I enjoyed reading many of your NZ trip reports and they were extremely helpful. I think I started looking into the inland route via Waiau to Kaikoura after looking at your pictures I think we are going to take the SH1. The side detours you listed all look lovely.

One of the reasons I had about skipping Queen Charlotte Drive was the length of driving time. If the inland route is not that much shorter, we probably will take the Queen Charlotte Drive if the weather is nice.

We will have two full days in Motueka after the drive from Kaikoura so that should give us some nice break from long driving.

We are leaving for the South Island next week and are pretty excited. This will be our first visit. Really appreciate your input and will start taking notes from your trip reports.
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Old Feb 13th, 2015, 02:19 PM
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Happy to help lovetoroam.

Enjoy NZ.

I'm headed that way myself today.
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Old Feb 16th, 2015, 05:49 PM
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Kaikoura was a fav on our trip to the South Island! I agree that the ocean view drive is spectacular.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 06:42 AM
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Thank you both!

Have a great trip, Melnq8.
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