Sunday drives in the South Island are worthy of the movies. They are picturesque, relatively empty and endless in their options for on road exploration. Take a left off the main drag and you can find yourself in a completely new and unique scenery where one photo just won't do. I can see why so many people own motorhomes and caravans in Christchurch... why wouldn't you? There are so many amazing road trips right on your door step.
Recently I was lucky enough to take a TrailLite 500 series motorhome from our branch in Christchurch through Arthurs Pass to Greymouth. We were filming with Mercedes Benz who had sent a film crew from Germany with the brief "film the best and most quintessential area of NZ". While that brief seems easy, in reality we are blessed to live in a country that has amazing unique scenery around nearly every corner especially when motorhoming out of Christchurch.
We finally decided on an itinerary that included exploring what the Christchurch to Greymouth route had to offer and it certainly didn't disappoint. It would be a great weekend road trip in a motorhome or caravan and shouldn't just be used as a passage from east to west when traveling the South Island. There is some great places to stop and if you're not in a hurry taking some of the roads off the main highway really do offer something special. There are plenty of options for day hikes, treks and picture perfect picnic spots.
As you leave Christchurch in your motorhome or caravan you're instantly rewarded. On a clear day the snow caped mountains shine in the distance and it didn't take long before we pulled over for our first filming opportunity -the motorhome cruising the open road (St Hwy 73, Christchurch) towards the mountains in the distance.
One of the first stops you come to is Shefield. Where the famous sheffield pie shop is a must for lunch. It isn't just pies either. It has a bit of everything you'd expect at a good old fashioned New Zealand home bakery.
As you approach Porters Pass you'll get an amazing panoramic view of the Korowai-Torlesse Tussocklands Park only 75 minutes from Christchurch. Take one of the access routes into the park - we took the motorhome up around the Porter Heights Skifield Road. You follow the stream up and in the winter the Porters Skifield is open allowing you access close to the top. If you can ski or snowboard the top of the Porters skifield offer an amazing view out over the alps. The park is popular for hiking, trails and some history including the Avoca Homestead (1907).
As you head further between the Torlesse and Craigieburn ranges you'll come to Castle Hill. A great place to pull the motorhome or caravan over and stop for a short stroll. Hundreds of tourists full the car park as they walk up to the rocks/boulders to explore. It's only 90km northwest of Christchurch so it would even be great for a day trip, a short walk and some lunch in the camper.
It was also one of the spots where we put the drone up and filmed the motorhome cruising along in front of some amazingly picturesque New Zealand scenery. One thing is for sure you won't be the only person driving a motorhome or towing a caravan through the pass and we were constantly waving out to other TrailLite motorhome owners, caravanners and tourists driving rentals.
We left the main Arthurs Pass Road for Mt White Bridge soon after Castle Hill. It's a gravel road but the TrailLite motorhome handled it well with no problems at all. The destination is a large old white bridge that crosses over the Waimakariri River. Another great scenic spot; throw the fishing line in and enjoy a perfect photo opportunity. You'll see the sign from the main road easy enough and really shouldnt miss it.
Our film crew were staying at the Kumara Pub which offered a great meal, good atmosphere and heaps of interesting facts about the history of the region. We stayed in the motorhome out the back of the pub which they were more than happy for us to do because we were certified self contained of course. There was even some glowworms down the path at the back of the pub which could keep you entertained for the evening.
The drive from Kumara to Greymouth is brief and certainly not the best part of the road from east to west. Once in Greymouth we parked up at the end of the Greymouth Breakwater and watched the surfers and waves roll into the Greymouth bar on the other side. The weather wasn't very nice but the scenery still delighted. Signs directing you to the breakwater can be found along the main road and it's another great spot to park up and enjoy- rain, hail or shine.
North of Greymouth along the coast is another great New Zealand motorhome or caravan road trip. We went a short way up the coast and got all the footage we needed so I am sure further North along the coast road is equally as beautiful.
The Arthurs Pass road is the perfect South Island motorhome or caravan road trip linking Christchurch to Greymouth.