4 Day Christchurch to Arthur's Pass Road Trip | Apollo Motorhome Holidays NZ
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4 Day Christchurch to Arthur's Pass Road Trip

This scenic 4-day road trip is the perfect starting trip for anyone new to campervan holidays and road trips, with short driving days and plenty of beautiful places to stop and soak in the serenity along the way.

National Park

Starting and finishing in Christchurch, this road trip takes you through the mountain village of Arthur’s Pass with its stunning wilderness and wildlife. On the journey to Arthur’s Pass, you will detour via the French settlement of Akaroa where you’ll experience the town’s rich history and wonderful food.

This camper road trip in the South Island of New Zealand is the perfect starter itinerary for those interested in nature, history, and delicious food. The driving hours for each day are short, with plenty of opportunities for scenic stops each along the way. 

Day 1: Christchurch

Found on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch is known for its great mix of entertainment, cultural experiences, and historical buildings. Christchurch is perfect launching pad for your next New Zealand motorhome holiday.

With a lively arts community, museums and art galleries are a must visit too. Christchurch has a newly developed restaurant scene which delivers on local and international flavours and culinary delights worth indulging in.

Pick up your campervan hire in Christchurch and stock your on board fridge up with delicious local goodies before settling in for a good night’s rest at a local campground, ready for the next day’s adventure!


Roadside stop south island nz campervan tripImage: Flynn Graham


Day 2: Christchurch- Akaroa

Travel time: 1 hr

Distance: 87 km

Departing from Christchurch, we suggest the easiest of the two drives that will take you to Akaroa. Travelling down State highway 75 you will journey via Lake Ellesmere and Lake Forsyth before climbing over the hills to the stunning Akaroa Harbour.

Akaroa is full of character and charm. Originally a French Settlement, Akaroa is intertwined with homage to its French history with French street names and local restaurants incorporating French themes and menus. Bon appétit!

Why not visit the Akaroa Museum or check out one of the beautifully restored historic cottages while in town? There is also marine life to explore on the Akaroa harbour cruises, where you might just meet penguins, fur seals and dolphins.  After a day of exploring, you can park up at a local campground in Akaroa.


Kaikōura, Canterbury
Image: Miles Holden via Tourism New Zealand


Day 3: Akaroa - Arthurs Pass

Travel time: 2.5 hr

Distance: 214 km

Travelling back towards Christchurch and journeying to Arthurs Pass is a slightly longer drive than day 2, however, with the ease or stopping wherever you like with your camper, you won’t mind the added time to explore.

Once out of Christchurch you will embark on the journey through the Canterbury Plains - bringing rolling green hills while passing through towns like Kirwee, Darfield, Sheffield and Springfield.  If you fancy adding some skiing to your motorhome holiday, this route winds into the ski areas of Porter Heights and Craigieburn, which are an easy detour. You can then follow the Waimakariri and Bealey Rivers before arriving at Arthur’s Pass

While Arthur’s Pass today is a sophisticated mountain pass with stunning scenery, this route was first used by Māori tribes crossing to the West Coast to find pounamu (jade).  There’s plenty to explore at Arthur’s Pass with several short walks, plus climbing, hiking and ski adventures all available within the Arthur’s Pass National Park.

The beauty of a motorhome holiday in the South Island of New Zealand is that you can stay and play as long as you’d like without having to worry about hotel check in times – so you can make the most of your time exploring Arthur’s Pass.  


Bealey Valley, Arthur's Pass, Canterbury
Image: Unlimited NZ via Tourism New Zealand


Day 4: Arthurs Pass – Christchurch

Travel time: 2 hr

Distance: 170 km

On your return journey to Christchurch, you will travel back via the Waimakariri and Bealey Rivers and ski areas of Porter Heights and Craigieburn. We would recommend taking this opportunity to stop at Lake Pearson and Grasmere for a few Instagram worthy holiday snaps with your camper van.

Your next stops on the way back to Christchurch are the friendly rural towns of Kirwee, Darfield, Sheffield, and Springfield.

The journey ends in Christchurch – the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand.  Christchurch city has many walking and cycling paths along the beautiful Avon River. We’d recommend taking some time to stretch your legs and enjoy in the sights of the city before returning your home on wheels back to the Apollo Christchurch branch.


Port Hills, Canterbury
Image: Julian Apse via Tourism New Zealand


Ready to book your Christchurch road trip?

There’s plenty to explore around Christchurch city and beyond. The first step is to book your Apollo camper today.

Hiring a camper means you have the flexibility to stay and play as long as you’d like. With branches in Auckland and Christchurch you could even pick up your camper at one branch and return at another – make the adventure yours!

Looking for more inspiration for your next New Zealand road trip? Check out our blogs:


Looking for places to stay?

Apollo works with a number of campground networks – we recommend downloading our ApolloConnect App or find out more info on places to stay.

This driving route is supplied by New Zealand Tourism Guide.

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