The Mount Hutt range and Rākaia River. © David Wall Photography

Inland Scenic Route 72: Christchurch loop


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

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.

Explore more...

More stories like this

Find out more

Natural attractions

Akaroa: French charm

An hour’s easy drive from Christchurch and just over the crest of the hill you reach Akaroa harbour opening dramatically before you, the land dropping steeply to turquoise sea. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Natural attractions

Christchurch: a city transforming

How often do you get to see a city in the midst of a complete transformation? Christchurch today is different from the experience of Christchurch last month, next month and certainly six years ago. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Activities

Akaroa: French heritage charm and the finest of foods

This is the place where sheltered harbour, French heritage, colonial architecture and a passion for fine food fuse perfectly together. Read the story . . . 

Where to stay in Christchurch City

4.9 /5
From $170
4.9 /5
Best Price Around
Randolph Motel Apartments Visit website

5-Star Motel Accommodation in Christchurch. Central location situated on Papanui Road, just 5 minutes walk to Merivale Mall and St Georges Hospital. . . . More . . . 

From $170

Book now

Book now

Orari B&B & Apartments Visit website

Orari Bed & Breakfast - boutique hotel accommodation - your oasis in the central city, provides luxurious, private and spacious boutique accommodation in a beautifully . . . More . . . 

4.4 /5
219 on Johns Motel & Holiday Park Visit website

Located on SH 1 (north/south bypass). 15 minutes to Christchurch city centre, 8 minutes to airport. Rural setting. Long-term parking. 100m to Groynes recreation park, . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now

4.0 /5
4.0 /5
Best Price Around
The Redwood Visit website

27 rooms serviced daily. Economy and superior suites. 1min from north/south bypass (SH 1). 8min from city centre, 8 minutes from airport, handy to golf . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now