The gourmets to gold mines route - Christchurch to Queenstown

Mount Cook seen from the Hooker valley - Photo by Jörg Hempel, Wikimedia Creative CommonsMount Cook seen from the Hooker valley - Photo by Jörg Hempel, Wikimedia Creative Commons

This part of the great NZ motorhome rental or campervan hire adventure starts in the city of Christchurch and travels south through rugged terrain, mountains and forests, 627 Km to Queenstown. 

After spending a few days exploring what this southern city has to offer hit the road and travel south, but not too far as the first stop is just an hour out of Christchurch.  That’s the great thing about motorhome rental and campervan hire trips, the journey’s just as important as the destination, and the first destination is Geraldine, the views are pretty spectacular too. 

You’re going to need to stay here for a few days as the area around Geraldine has some great experiences for lovers of outdoor pursuits.  It has everything from skiing and snowboarding, white-water rafting and skydiving, there’s also the golf course and plenty of walking opportunities in the stunning Peel Forest.  Located on the banks of the Waihi River, the town is packed with crafty types, that’s people make things not rouges!  These crafty people do all kinds of things, but especially good are the edible things such as jams, chutneys, cheese, and chocolate.  There are also a couple of more unusual places to visit, the Vintage Car and Machinery Museum, and the Mount John Observatory for stargazers.  Whatever you’re interested in, you’ll enjoy your stay here, there really is so much going on; make sure you leave plenty of time.

At some point you will have to move on, after all you’ve still only travelled one hour south!  Leave Geraldine behind you and make your first stop Lake Tekapo.  This is another of those places where you can try out extreme adventure, or something a little more sedate.  From here its an even more scenic route than before, there are so many photo opportunities especially of Aoraki Mount Cook.  The area around here is where you might like to make your next stop; the White Horse Camp Ground comes highly recommended.  The National Park is another of those places where you will want to pull on your boots and hike.  The Tasman Glacier viewpoint track is a favourite for its views over the ice; maybe you could get involved in a Glacier Explorers adventure where you have the opportunity to get up close to the melt water which winds its way down to the lake.  This is also the place to stock up on fresh smoked salmon from the worlds highest salmon farm, and a ‘must do’ is a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine centre to pay homage to the great man.  If he’s your hero then why not try to reach the summit of Aoraki Mount Cook the highest point in Oceania at 3750 meters, but only for experienced climbers!

You simply have to visit the township of Twizel even if its just to take a photo of the signposts, what a fantastic name...Twizel was originally built to accommodate the largest hydro electric power scheme in the southern hemisphere, and is now home to a whole host of adventure activities, and more salmon fishing opportunities.

Next stop Cromwell, once the land of gold and mines now the home of liquid gold, well wine anyway.  The area is famous for its Pinot Noir, so there are plenty of opportunities for a tasting session or two, but work out who’s driving before you start.

So, you arrived at your final destination on this leg of your Christchurch campervan hire adventure, and what an adventure it’s been so far….what’s next? Well for a start you’ve got to explore Queenstown and although most people think of it as a ski destination during the summer there are loads of things to do too. 

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