Taking a 3-day road trip from Christchurch to Picton is the perfect way to bask in the beauty of the South Island and explore its vast range of attractions. With stunning scenery, historical sites, and numerous activities spread across all three days, you’re sure to encounter plenty of unforgettable experiences. Whether your end goal is relaxation or exploration, this road trip is guaranteed to satisfy all your needs.

Christchurch to Picton Distance

The journey from Christchurch to Picton is 336 km and takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes by car. Scenic coastal views, rolling pastures and lush vineyards are just a few of the spectacular sights along the way that often prompt travellers to make the most of this stunning drive by taking their time on the road to really appreciate the beauty of New Zealand’s South Island. From volcanoes, hot springs and cascading waterfalls in between, there’s never a dull moment when travelling from Christchurch to Picton.

Quick stats

336km trip distance

3 day roadtrip

Campervan recommended

road trip map

Day 1: Christchurch to Kaikōura

Travel Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Dolphins jumping our of water in Kaikoura

Head north along the inland route, and you’ll find yourself in the heart of Kaikōura. This small coastal town is known for its marine wildlife and whale-watching, as well as its laidback atmosphere and range of delicious seafood restaurants. Spend some time exploring the unique landscape from atop a scenic mountain bike trail, or take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline to get up close with local seals and dolphins. Whether you choose to relax or explore, Kaikōura is the perfect stopover for your first day of travel.

Sightseeing #1: Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway offers a unique, coastal experience full of memorable experiences. The track takes three hours, but those looking for a shorter journey can explore the various sections, which each offer something different. Along the walkway, you will be rewarded with absolutely stunning views of New Zealand’s South Island’s east coast, complete with snow-capped mountains in winter. Plus, there is an abundance of wildlife to discover, including whale, dolphin, seal and bird species, plus crayfish! Moreover, be sure to take note of the informational panels which portray the unique history and biodiversity of the area.

Sightseeing #2: Ohau Point Seal Colony

Ohau Point Seal Colony is a unique sight for any traveller in Kaikoura. Here you can witness the marvellous display of New Zealand fur seals resting and playing on the rocks, providing a mesmerizing view that will surely stick to your memory forever. Apart from admiring their beautiful physical features, you can also observe their swimming skills while they alternate between sunbathing and swimming in the ocean. This remarkable experience of being so close to nature will stay with you long after your journey ends.

Day 2: Kaikoura to Blenheim

Travel Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Row of beautiful grape yard before sunset with mountain in Blenheim, New Zealand

Blenheim, situated in the north island of New Zealand, home to the highly acclaimed Marlborough Wine Region, is an ideal stop during a 3-day Christchurch to Picton road trip. Sitting in the heart of one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand, with 2,438 hours of sunshine a year, visitors have ample opportunity to explore this picturesque region and partake in some delicious wines. Whether you choose to take a wine tour or bike around the vineyards yourself, you are sure to find your favourite drop. Don’t forget to take a break for a delicious lunch before ending your day with some more fine wines at one of Blenheim’s appetizing wineries for some wine tasting.

Sightseeing #1: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre offers a unique insight into WWI and WWII history through the aircraft that were used during those conflict-ridden times. Visitors of all ages can admire the museum’s collection of both authentically restored and replica vintage aircraft, as well as its sophisticated exhibit galleries featuring animatronics and soundscapes. Through its enriching integration of fine art and artifacts, this impressive facility vividly portrays both sides of these important war stories. Those on holiday or interested in exploring the area’s history should not miss out on a visit to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre for an unforgettable sightseeing experience.

Sightseeing #2: Pollard Park

Pollard Park is truly a remarkable feat of nature in Blenheim. The gardens are breathtaking, with beautifully maintained pathways that meander throughout the park and provide plenty of opportunity for a leisurely stroll. The trees throughout the park have been expertly pruned and provide calmness for anyone looking for some peace and tranquillity. Additionally, the wildlife in the park is highly diverse, making it an ideal destination for those looking to observe birds, reptiles and other animals up close. All in all, Pollard Park will leave you feeling invigorated, refreshed and reconnected with nature. If you’re worried about car park accessibility, plenty of parking is available throughout the park.

Day 3: Blenheim to Picton

Travel Time: 15 minutes
Scenic view of Picton, South Island, New Zealand

On day three of your Christchurch to Picton road trip, you’ll arrive in the stunning town of Picton. With its sheltered harbour, seaside cafés and restaurants, galleries, aquarium, and maritime museum, Picton has something for everyone. Get out on the water with local operators for a day of cruising, fishing, dolphin watching, sea kayaking or mountain biking. Don’t forget to check out top attractions such as the Edwin Fox Museum and Kaipupu Sanctuary to discover local culture & history, then spend time exploring walking trails like Tirohanga Track and Queen Charlotte Track through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds, a must-see masterpiece of nature.

Sightseeing #1: Edwin Fox Museum

Visitors to Picton have the chance to explore the history and get an up-close view of maritime heritage with a trip to the Edwin Fox Ship and Visitor Centre. The centre is home to the last surviving ship that took convicts to Australia, as well as the oldest existing merchant ship in the world. Acquired by a committee in 1966 for just one shilling, this significant landmark has been carefully preserved through the decades with future generations in mind. Providing a poignant glimpse into our past, a visit is essential for anyone truly wanting to explore and appreciate what Picton has to offer.

Sightseeing #2: Kaipupu Sanctuary

Heading north of Picton is the Kaipupu Sanctuary, a protected reserve of majestic bush and birds. Visitors can enjoy peaceful walks in the bush amid the chirping of birds, accompanied by breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The 2.7km circular walking track offers an easy-paced experience and only takes a 15-minute boat ride from Picton to get there. What better way to appreciate these endemic species than visiting this remarkable site?

Happy Exploring!

Person jumping next to campervan with view of New Zealand lake and mountains

Embark on a journey from Christchurch to Auckland and experience one of the world’s best road trips. Don’t forget to check out our latest deals on campervan hire in Christchurch and explore New Zealand in your own time with the perfect itinerary.

Whether you want to relax, sightsee or simply embark on an adventure, this remarkable trip will not disappoint. For tips on other fantastic road trips around the South Island, head over to our South Island Road Trips.

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