New Zealand’s Ultimate Scenic Road Trip : Greymouth to Christchurch

Today, I took a road trip from Greymouth to Christchurch, passing through some beautiful scenery along the way. We drove along the Great Coastal Road, passing through Kamara town, and exploring Dillman’s Town and Jackson’s. We also navigated through some tricky one-lane bridges and entered the steep Otira Gorge before finally climbing the Southern Alps and reaching arthurs pass 

Key Takeaways

  • The road trip from Greymouth to Christchurch offers stunning views of the Great Coastal Road and beautiful scenery.
  • Navigating one-lane bridges and steep gorges can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort for the breathtaking views.
  • Climbing the Southern Alps and reaching arthurs pass is a highlight of the trip.

Departure from Greymouth

As I set out on my road trip from Greymouth, I was filled with excitement to explore the Southern Alps and reach Christchurch. The journey was estimated to take around 2.5 to 3 hours, covering a distance of approximately 250 kilometers.

Leaving Greymouth behind, we passed the Australasian Hotel on our left, which is known for its good food and cold beer. As we drove further, the Tasman Sea appeared on our right, looking rough and uninviting. The road was surrounded by native bush, with vibrant colors of trees in the middle of winter.

We soon arrived at the new Taramakau Bridge, which replaced the old road-rail bridge. It was a relief to know there was no danger of being run over by a train. The road continued along the coast, passing through the cute little town of Kumara, where we stopped to use the clean toilets on the left.

As we drove towards Jackson, the mountains in the distance looked mean and ominous, with signs of ice and grit everywhere. We followed the edge of the mountain, passing through Otira Gorge, where steep grades were not recommended for towing vehicles. The road was peppered with one-lane bridges, and we had to be careful of people on the wrong side of the road, especially with big trucks coming around the bend.

Overall, the departure from Greymouth was an exciting and scenic start to the road trip, with plenty of interesting sights and stops along the way.

Decision Point: Hokitika or Christchurch


As we were driving along the beautiful Coastal Road, we came to a decision point where we had to choose whether to go to Hokitika or Christchurch. It was a tough decision, but we ultimately decided to head towards Christchurch, which was about 233 kilometers away.

Hokitika is a cute little town with lots of tourist accommodations, art galleries, and walking tracks. It’s also a great drive to Greymouth especially in the summertime. On the other hand, Christchurch is a  lot bigger city with more attractions and things to do.

If you’re ever in a similar situation, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each destination. Hokitika is great for those who want a more laid-back and relaxing experience, while Christchurch offers more excitement and adventure.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your personal preferences and what you want to get out of your road trip. Whether you choose Hokitika or Christchurch, both destinations have something unique and special to offer.

Passing Through Kamara Raceway and Town


As we were driving towards Christchurch, we passed through the quaint little town of Kamara. It’s a cute little settlement with a few art galleries and a service station, which would be the last one for about 80 or 90 kilometers. The town is surrounded by hills, and there are plenty of walking tracks and a swimming hole to explore.

Traveling the Great Coastal Road

As I drove along the Great Coastal Road, I couldn’t help but appreciate the stunning scenery around me. My road trip started in Greymouth and continued over the Southern Alps, with Christchurch as the final destination. But be careful if you are not used to New Zealand’s roads as they can be quite intimidating if you are only used to motorway driving. The coastal road was surrounded by native bush and flex bushes, which added to the beauty of the drive.

The Otira Gorge is one of the steepest roads in New Zealand, and it’s not recommended for towing vehicles. The road has several one-lane bridges, which can be tricky to navigate. We had to be cautious of falling rocks from the cliffs above, and we saw a few concrete barriers that filtered the rocks over the top of the road to stop it from getting smashed up..

Along the way, we encountered several small towns, including Jackson’s and Kamara. These towns had cute little settlements, art galleries, and coffee shops. We also passed the turnoff for Lake Brunner, a beautiful lake that’s perfect for a summer drive.

Overall, the Great Coastal Road is a must-see for anyone visiting New Zealand. The road trip offers stunning views of the Tasman Sea, native bush, and the Southern Alps. The small towns along the way are charming, and the Otira Gorge and the Otira Viaduct are engineering marvels. I highly recommend this road trip to anyone looking for an adventure in New Zealand.

Entering the Steep Otira Gorge

As we continue our road trip towards Christchurch, we are now entering the steep Otira Gorge. This is one of the steepest roads in New Zealand, especially in the South Island. The road is not recommended for towing vehicles, so if you are driving a camper van or towing a trailer, you need to be extra careful.

One of the challenges of driving through the Terra Gorge is the one-lane bridges. We have already encountered a few of them on our journey, but this one is particularly tricky. The approach is hard to see until you are right on top of it, and there is not a lot of room up here. We need to stick to the left and be mindful of any slow-moving vehicles or trucks that may be on the road.

Another challenge of driving through the  otira Gorge is the risk of falling rocks. There are barriers on the side of the road to prevent rocks from falling onto the road, but we still need to be cautious. The road is also narrow, so we need to be careful not to veer off the road and into the rocks.

Despite the challenges, the Otira Gorge is a beautiful and scenic drive. We can see the mountains and the river as we wind our way through the gorge. There are also scenic lookouts along the way where we can stop and take in the view.

Overall, driving through the Terra Gorge requires patience and caution, but it is well worth it for the stunning scenery and unique experience.

Scenic Lookout and Viaduct Lookout

I stopped at the Scenic Lookout and Viaduct Lookout to take in the stunning views. The lookout offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and photographers.

From the lookout, I could see the Otira Viaduct, which is a modern engineering marvel. The viaduct is a concrete structure that spans over the Otira Gorge, and it is one of the highest bridges in the Southern Hemisphere. It replaced the old road that used to be narrow, steep, and winding, and it has made the journey much safer and more comfortable.

Overall, the Scenic Lookout and Viaduct Lookout is a must-visit spot for anyone traveling through the Southern Alps. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding nature and a glimpse of modern engineering at its best.

Navigating One Lane Bridges

When driving through New Zealand, one of the unique challenges you may encounter is navigating one lane bridges. These bridges are common on rural roads and can be found throughout the country. As the name suggests, they are designed to accommodate only one vehicle at a time, which means that drivers must take extra care when approaching them.

When approaching a one lane bridge, it is important to slow down and be prepared to yield to any oncoming traffic. The road will typically have a sign indicating which direction has the right of way, so be sure to pay attention to this. If you are unsure, it is better to err on the side of caution and wait for the other vehicle to pass before proceeding.

It is also important to keep to the left-hand side of the road when approaching a one lane bridge. This will give you the best visibility and allow you to see if there is any oncoming traffic. If there is a vehicle approaching from the other direction, be sure to stop and wait for it to pass before proceeding.

Another thing to keep in mind when navigating one lane bridges is to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. These bridges are often used by locals as a shortcut, and it is not uncommon to see people walking or cycling across them. Be sure to give them plenty of room and slow down if necessary.

Finally, it is important to be patient when driving on New Zealand’s rural roads. These roads can be narrow and winding, and it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving vehicles or livestock on the road. Take your time, be alert, and enjoy the beautiful scenery that New Zealand has to offer.

Climbing the Southern Alps


As I made my way through the Southern Alps, The scenery around me started to change. The road gave  way to native bush as I got closer to the mountains. The colors of the trees were still quite vibrant even though it was the middle of winter. Driving at 100 kilometers an hour through the native bush was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Conclusion of Road Trip

As I approach Christchurch, I can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction and awe at the beauty of the Southern Alps. The road trip from Greymouth to Christchurch has been an unforgettable experience. The 250-kilometer journey through native bush, coastal roads, and steep grades has been a thrilling adventure.

Driving through the Otira Gorge was a highlight of the trip. The steep grades and one-lane bridges were challenging, but the stunning views made it all worth it. The concrete barrier that filters rocks over the top of the road was an impressive feat of engineering.

The alpine pass was another breathtaking experience. The snow-capped peaks and thunderstorms added to the drama of the journey. The drive through the Southern Alps was a reminder of the raw beauty of nature.

As I approach Christchurch, I can’t help but reflect on the many sights and experiences of the road trip. From the art galleries in Jackson to the cute little town of Kamara, there was never a dull moment. The road trip was a reminder of the diversity of New Zealand’s landscape and the ingenuity of its people.

Overall, the road trip from Greymouth to Christchurch was a thrilling adventure that I will never forget. The stunning scenery, challenging roads, and friendly people made it an unforgettable experience. I can’t wait to explore more of New Zealand’s beautiful landscape in the future.

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