Campervan, North Canterbury  © Christchurch Photographic Society (via APT)

Canterbury Pacific Highway

The east coast of the South Island is characterised by its ever changing and diverse backdrops. Travelling from mountain peaks to golden beaches to bustling cityscapes, the Canterbury Pacific Highway from Kaikoura in the north to Waimate in the south is truly memorable.


The ecotourism capital of New Zealand, stunning Kaikoura is a magical location where the mountains meet the sea. World-renowned for its eco-activities – particularly whale watching & dolphin swimming, Kaikoura also offers Maori culture tours, bird watching, hunting, hiking & some superb food & wine experiences.

North Canterbury

Venturing south from Kaikoura you'll reach the small welcoming towns of North Canterbury. Head back out to the coast for a relaxing visit to Gore Bay; linger in the Waipara valley to indulge in the area's top notch wineries; or stop a while in Amberley and dine at an acclaimed local eatery.


'The Little England’ of the South Pacific', Christchurch is the South Island's largest city. The attractive centre is characterised by gothic revival architecture, while a tram loop and river punts add to the city’s ambience. Enjoy the many natural features or indulge in the great shopping, dining and nightlife.

Ashburton District

The Ashburton District lives up to its moniker of The Land of Surprising Contrasts, with fishing, skiing, alpine treks, city living and rural vistas all on offer. The route takes you through the village of Rakaia, with its giant salmon statue, before reaching the city of Ashburton.

Central South Island

Further south lies the Central South Island region, home to the commercial hub of Timaru & Temuka, the settlements of Temuka and Pleasant Point and the route's finishing point - Waimate. Tiny Waimate is known for its large population of wild wallabies which can be viewed (captive or wild) around the town.


 Kaikoura town view  Eliduke (Flickr)


  The picturesque Omihi Hills Vineyard, run by Daniel Schuster Wines, Waipara, New Zealand  Daniel Schuster Wines



Cycling through Hagley Park Christchurch


 Salmon fishing, Rakaia Gorge, Ashburton District  Ashburton District Tourism


Central South Island Tourism

Route Map

Coming soon...


Route Facts

  • Approx. 400km long
  • One way
  • Start: Kaikoura or Waimate
  • End: Waimate or Kaikoura
  • Coastal, scenery, wine & food, wildlife, city life, rural

Other Touring Routes