The Alpine Pacific Triangle New Zealand Touring Route

What better way to experience a New Zealand holiday than taking a road trip with your own rental car? When you hire a car at the Christchurch Airport in New Zealand, you can start out on your vacation and make your own schedule; follow your own itinerary with the freedom to stay longer or skip things to accommodate your own tastes and wishes.

The Alpine Pacific Triangle is a touring route on New Zealand’s Southern Island. It takes 4 days to make the round trip around the route which is 451 km long. It begins in Christchurch and incorporates three of the most popular holiday destinations. Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs, and Waipara Valley wine district make up the three points of the triangle. Don’t miss the highlights of whale watching, natural hot springs, and the Waipara wineries. This road trip is great any time of the year. This article will cover highlights of the Alpine Pacific Touring Route road trip, a suggested itinerary, and things to do in each of the three main spots.

Day One: Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Route: Begin in Christchurch


Whale Watching in Kaikoura Photo Credit:


New Zealand Touring Route

Christchurch to Kaikoura Map Photo Credit: Google Maps


Day one begins in Christchurch and ends in Kaikoura. It takes a little over two hours to drive the 182 km between the two cities. You might have already spent some time in the city of Christchurch with so much to do, it can be a holiday on its own. There is so much adventure to be had in Christchurch from swimming with dolphins to white water rafting, hot air ballooning, sea kayaking, and much more.

Once you make the first leg of the Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Route, you can catch a glimpse into Maori spirituality by taking a cultural tour. Another highlight in Kaikoura is whale watching or swimming with the dusky dolphins. If you don’t want to get too close to the water, scenic flights are available too.  Whether it is from the air or land, you will definitely be able to see the spectacular views of the Kaikoura coastline from the Kaikoura Mountains. For dinner, indulge in fresh and deliciously prepared local seafood at one of the many restaurants or cafes.

Day Two of the Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Route

New Zealand Touring Route

Enjoying the Naturally Heated Water in Hanmer Springs Photo Credit:


New Zealand Touring Route

Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs Map Photo Credit: Google Maps


Day two leads you from Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs. The drive takes just under two hours and is 132 km long. Before leaving Kaikoura, be sure to check out the Kaikoura Township for the local shops, arts and crafts, and other wares. The beauty of having your own rental car means you can stay longer or leave sooner depending on what strikes your fancy in each city. Hanmer Springs has been an alpine spa village attracting those who want to relax and unwind in the soothing mineral waters since 1859. You can choose to just relax in the hot pools or partake in a luxurious spa treatment where they use the springs as part of their spa treatments.

Day Three: Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Triangle Route Itinerary


White Water Rafting in Hanmer Springs Photo Credit:



Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa Photo Credit:


Day three is spent enjoying Hanmer Springs. You might want to spend more than one day here because the things to do here are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Of course, you will likely want to relax in the natural hot springs and maybe even book a treatment or two in the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa. However, you might want to save that after a day of thrill seeking since there is no shortage of adventure with options like a jet boat ride on the Waiau River, Waiau Gorge, or bungy jump off the Ferry Bridge. Then there is Hanmer Forest Park where you can go mountain biking or take a guided tour and learn about the history or the strange and diverse mix of flora and fauna. There are plenty of different accommodation options in Hanmer Springs as well as a variety of dining options to tempt your palette.


Day Four: Alpine Pacific Triangle Touring Route: Full Circle (or Triangle) Back in Christchurch


Waipara Wine Region Photo Credit:

New Zealand Touring Route

Hanmer Spring to Christchurch Map Photo Credit: Google Maps


Day four is spent travelling from Hanmer Springs back to Christchurch. The drive straight through takes less than two hours; the distance is 135 km, but you most likely wouldn’t drive straight through without stopping in wine country.  Along the way, definitely plan to visit the Waipara wine region. Both Pegasus Bay Winery and Black Estate Winery have restaurants so you can choose where you would like to grab lunch. Once you are back in Christchurch, you can spend more time there to extend your holiday as you wish. If you only have the afternoon, some top suggestions include visiting Christchurch’s botanic gardens, relaxing by the Avon River, or taking a ride on the historic tram.


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