The Rākaia River. © ChristchurchNZ

Inland Scenic Route 72: Christchurch loop


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Round trips are immensely satisfying. There’s a pleasing symmetry in ending up back where you started, a closing of the loop, a real sense of achievement.

The other appeal of this particular journey is that, in a country where we celebrate our wonderful coastlines so much, and with good reason, on Highway 72 you head inland. Into the heart of, in this case, the Canterbury region.

And, as road trips go, this one’s more trip than road, because there are a lot of very cool action-packed stop-offs for you to enjoy.

Even if you consider yourself to be more faint-hearted than wild-hearted, the thrill of the spills and the beautiful scenery in which to engage in them will be an irresistible pull, we assure you.

Straight roads and big skies make this a spectacular, and sedate, trip through the hinterland. The towns along the way, especially with names like Oxford, echo the Englishness that Christchurch may have imparted to you, but be assured, this is great Kiwi farming country, too, the road paralleling braided rivers, stunning rock formations and, as you head further inland, the foothills of the majestic Southern Alps.

And, in between, the little towns. Said Oxford is all rural charm, with farm stays and horse trekking a speciality, and the Oxford Forest a great spot to throw down the picnic rug for an afternoon. Spicing things up, after you’ve passed through the romantically rural environs of Glentunnel and Windwhistle, you’ll cross the Rākaia, which is action central – for white water rafting, or jet boating. Keeping it energised, this is but a snowball’s throw from Mt Hutt, which guarantees spectacular skiing in the winter months.

Magical Methven feeds the ski-field attendees, providing a welcoming wind down if you’ve been getting big air on the skis, the snowboard or the chairlift as an official observer to all the craziness. More river crossings and you’re in Geraldine, where you can stock up on some serious local produce, take in some local art, and relax after all that adventuring.

Ashburton is a fly fisher’s paradise for both salmon and trout, and then to Akaroa, at the end of the run.

Settled by the French, it maintains a Gallic charm – and serious patisseries! Its history is surprising and well worth investigating. Then, a meander back along the coast road – a welcome change from all that inland green – to the ever-changing environs of Christchurch.

Akaroa Peninsula, South Island, NZ 😍🌱⛵ . . . #Travel #NewZealand #SouthIsland #Kiwi #Akaroa #Lighthouse #NZMustDo #Harbour #WellTravelled

A post shared by Josh • Travel Expert • UK 🇬🇧 (@jsswalker92) on Apr 6, 2017 at 7:48am PDT

Whatever mashes your veges, floats your boat or sets your heart racing, this route, an adventure and an exercise in variety, delivers on all fronts.

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