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πŸš— self-drive itinerary

πŸ›οΈ minimum 2 night stay recommended

🍽️ dining suggestions offered

πŸ“… visit any time of year


A trip on the Alpine Pacific Triangle touring route takes you to the gourmet area of Waipara, spa delights of Hanmer Springs and marine mammals of Kaikoura. There's no better place to enjoy New Zealand lamb than the thriving town of Rangiora.


Highlights can include:

  • a world-class thermal pools complex, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools + Spa provides natural thermal pools, aqua therapy pools, freshwater pools, hydroslides and an award-winning spa, it is the best place for relaxation and fun (see video) πŸ‘™
  • Whale Watch Kaikoura offers visitors an exciting up-close encounter with the world’s largest toothed predator the Giant Sperm Whale in their natural environment at all times of the year πŸ‹πŸ³
  • explore what New Zealand's forests have to offer with a range of walking, mountain biking and horse riding tracks in Conical Hill + Hanmer Forest πŸŒ²
  • head past the surf beach of Gore Bay, the Cathedral Cliffs and relics of historic Port Robinson when you detour along the Gore Bay Tourist Drive πŸ“Έ
  • Weka Pass has many weathered limestone outcrops - their shapes sometimes suggest names, such as the most photographed Frog Rock πŸΈ
  • paddle with marine life, try your hand at sea kayaking, and get up close to playful Kaikoura seals on a seal kayaking tour πŸ›Ά
  • park land with panoramic mountain views and a hands-on experience with the animals at Hanmer Springs Animal Park will charm adults and children alike πŸΎ
  • suitable for families, Kaikoura's Peninsula Walkway will have you observing seals and seabirds, exploring historic pā and whaling sites and enjoying clifftop views of the sea and mountains πŸ‘Ÿ
  • enjoy the spectacular scenery along the Waiau River as you blast through narrow gorges, white water rapids and braided shallows on a Jetboat
  • experience the adrenalin high of our Bungy Jump as you leap from the historic Ferry Bridge and free-fall for 35 metres
  • relax on a Grade 2 Rafting adventure as you paddle down a crystal clear river: perfect for families
  • challenge the terrain, river bed creek crossing, mud and farmland trails on a Quad Bike adventure
  • visit a unique spot where baby seals can be seen under a waterfall and swimming the the stream.  The Ohau Waterfall Walk + Seal Pups are especially popular between April and September
  • take a dolphin swimming tour or simply watch dolphins from your purpose built boat off the coast of Kaikoura πŸ¬
  • enjoy quality time with amazing llamas on a coastal beach walk with Llama Trekking magnificent views, great locations and have a relaxing time! πŸ¦™
  • go seal swimming with wild New Zealand Fur Seals in their own spectacular marine environment in the shallow waters of the beautiful Kaikoura Peninsula πŸŠ
  • pack a picnic and escape to the Glentui Loop Track, which descends to a bridge over the Glentui River then climbs a ridge on the other side and includes a beautiful waterfall πŸžοΈπŸ‘Ÿ
  • see whales, dolphins and mountains from a unique perspective on a scenic flight with Wings over Whales πŸ›©οΈπŸ‹πŸ³
  • enjoy a relaxing stroll through the gardens of Lavendyl Lavender Farm - a tranquil atmosphere to have a coffee, tea and browse the speciality shop πŸŒ±



πŸ“ # of Visitors4.0

🐚 Beaches4.0

🌦️ Chance of Rain2.5

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦β€πŸ‘¦ Family Fun 6.0

πŸ›’ Shopping5.5

🍽️ Food + Wine 7.0

πŸ³οΈβ€πŸŒˆ LGBTQI+ friendly πŸ‘

Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0


πŸŽ₯video courtesy of Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa on YouTube


Length of stay
  • Sit back and relax. We've planned it all for you.


    Day 1 : Arrive in North Canterbury

    Upon arrival into North Canterbury, by either road or a scenic rail journey, you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 3 nights.


    After a morning of travelling, its always good to take in that fresh air and get active on a walk. Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is definitely worth exploring, make sure you have your camera with you.


    After dark, we'll offer suggestions on the best places to dine, with plenty of options despite the towns relative small population base.


    Day 2 : Marine Mammals 

    Kaikoura is one of the worlds best locations for dolphins, whales and seals.

    But because whales congregate here all year round, its time to get out and see them.  The 3km deep Kaikoura Canyon runs right up against the coast of the South Island, creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain an incredibly rich marine food chain.  Challenge yourself to get the infamous whale tail snap on your camera, or treasure the experience by just breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sea spray and listening to the lapping of the waves as these giant creatures do what they do.


    Seafood in Kaikoura is so fresh and delicious you'll want to add this to your day, perhaps with a large lunch, before driving the inland route through to Hanmer Springs.


    Hanmer Springs an alpine village best known for its natural hot pools and stunning landscapes.  Easy to find a delicious meal here, but as always, we'll let you know our favourites so you can make an informed decision. 


    Day 3 : Soak in the scenery from a natural hot spring pool

    Surrounded by mountains and forests with crisp alpine air and award winning natural thermal pools, the village of Hanmer Springs surprises many visitors with a vibrant boutique shopping experience, an exciting array of adventure activities (from jetboating to bungy jumping!), world class cafΓ©s and restaurants and family friendly farm parks and golf. The highlight though is the chance to relax and soak in the natural sulphur pools. Massage jets in the rainbow and aquatherapy pools will ease your aches and pains and with a range of temperatures (33-42 degrees Celsius) you'll find a piece of this paradise that's just right for you. The kids won't be bored either - the pools have a full family activity area complete with a water playground, two large activity pools, hydroslides and New Zealand's only Superbowl aquatic thrill ride.


    Hanmer Springs signals the time to try New Zealand lamb. We'll have you celebrating delicious New Zealand food and your last night in the North Canterbury region at one of our favourite restaurants in the area. 


    Day 4 : Depart North Canterbury

    This morning, perhaps take a detour via the Gore Bay Tourist Drive past the picturesque Cathedral Cliffs; or adventure through the Weka Pass on the lookout for Frog Rock.  Whatever direction you're going, we'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.