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Christchurch to Queenstown Route - help!

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Hello! As a first time visitor to New Zealand I need help. What is the best route, from a scenery perspective, from Christchurch to Queenstown? I originally was thinking via Arthur's Pass so we could see the glaciers (walking only, no heli-hike), but I have since read that perhaps the glaciers aren't nearly as impressive to see as they once were. If this is the case, then I have a choice of which route to take. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

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    Well, IMO the least scenic stretch of road on the entire SI is SH 1 along the east coast, particularly from Christchurch to Oamaru.

    My personal favorite route is via the West Coast. Even if the glaciers aren't a draw for you, the scenery along the drive is gorgeous. The West Coast is incredibly green with sub tropical rainforests, rolling countryside, the wild Tasman Sea, lakes, rivers, and of course the Southern Alps.

    The weather on the West Coast can be very wet though, so a torrential rain storm might put the kibosh on an otherwise gorgeous drive, but that's a chance we all take when we visit NZ.

    Crossing Arthur's Pass is an added bonus with some lovely mountain scenery, as is the detour to Punakaiki, which is about 45 minutes north of Greymouth.

    The drawback is that this route takes longer, and you will want to break up your trip with an overnight somewhere en route.

    The inland route, via Tekapo, with a detour to Mt Cook is lovely as well, but in an entirely different way. This drive is more about wind blown tussock covered hillsides, distant mountain views and glacial blue lakes. It's much drier, the landscape the color of wheat. Until you get to Mt Cook...where you'll be surrounded by mountains and plenty of green.

    This drive will take you through the wine region of Central Otago..do stop en route to taste some wonderful Pinot Noir.

    If you do take this route, I strongly recommend you avoid the section of SH 1 along the east coast, and instead cross over to 72/77 (Oxford/Sheffield/Mt Hutt) - due west of Christchurch, then pick up 79 and SH 8 near Geraldine. It's a much prettier stretch and includes Rakaia Gorge, which is a lovely place to walk - it's also longer, but worth the time.

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