Discover or re-ignite your romance on the Alpine Pacific Touring Route. There are so many opportunities to create memories and enjoy some time with your partner. Long lunches in the North Canterbury Wine Region, soaking in the mineral-filled thermal waters in Hanmer Springs or sitting together enjoying the beautiful views over the Kaikōura coastline.
From spa treatments to horse treks and intimate punting on the Avon River – it’s all here.
Head north out of Christchurch on State Highway One and you’ll soon find yourself in the stunning North Canterbury Wine Region.
Rows of vines will whip past your windows but don’t just drive through this area, stop and enjoy wine-tasting or lunch at one of the dozens of wineries.
Turn onto State Highway 7 and you’ll journey through the Weka Pass with its surreal limestone formations before turning off to reach Hanmer Springs – a simply magical place with thermal pools, boutique shopping and plenty of places to wine and dine.
Keep your eyes pealed for the Weka Pass Railway. Stop off in Waikari or Omihi to catch this special 45 minute ride.
The Weka Pass Railway is a historic rural railway using both vintage steam and diesel-electric locomotives through the unique limestone beauty of the Weka Pass out of Waipara, where superior weather patterns provide crystal clear air and high sunshine hours. The Weka Pass Railway is a totally voluntary organization, whose members are dedicated to the preservation of New Zealand’s rail heritage.
Look out for Frog Rock, Chair Rock, Seal Rock & the 'Rushmore" cliffs.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
An attraction of international standing, offering a world-class experience in a stunning environment.
There are plenty of places to sit and soak in the mineral-filled waters including the adults-only AquaTherapy pools that have spouts and jets to massage away your aches and pains.
Those wanting something extra special should book some time in a Private Pool.
“These are the best hot springs I have ever been to. Lots of different pools and varying temperatures.”
“Very relaxing after a long drive. We took our books and managed to spend nearly 7 hours up to our necks in hot water!”
Hanmer Springs is also known as New Zealand’s alpine spa village.
There are more than a dozen operators in the village offering an enormous range of spa and wellness treatments.
The service offered is world class and the treatments are pure indulgence - soothing massages, blissful aromatic therapies, revitalising facials and invigorating Vichy rain showers.
The biggest operator is The Spa which offers award-winning experiences designed to help you escape the fast pace of everyday life.
“Sublime. If I could live in The Spa, I would.”
“The couples’ room was a wonderful experience and a great way to introduce my husband to the world of spa therapy. He loved it… we’ll be back!”Read more
There are a number of ways to get from Hanmer Springs to Kaikōura.
The most scenic route is via the Inland Road which takes you past the entrance to the ski village of Mount Lyford, or you can travel on the Leader Road.
The Leader Road incorporates coastal and rural farming views and starts at the Waiau township. Both routes feature plenty of photo opportunities (couple selfie time!) with the light and views around Waiau particularly special.
Hanmer Springs Walks
The best time of day to get up Conical Hill is sunrise! You will be greeted with a view over the basin with the early morning setting and fresh alpine air in your lungs.
Or try the Forest Amble Walk. This a a wonderful 30-40 min easy walk that has a treasure Hunt as you keep a look out for the sculptures.Read More
Wonders & Views
South Pacific Helicopters offers scenic and whale watching flights to showcase Kaikōura and its unique wildlife and geology. The tours range from 30 minute flights up to an hour and 20-minute flight to show off the very best Kaikōura has to offer, with charter and private flights available. View the magnificent sperm whales of Kaikōura from tip to tail, then head up into the mountains to land at remote helicopter accessible only spots for a champagne toast or a picnic- it will be an unforgettable experience!
“Great professional team, incredible scenery. It was the highlight of our NZ holiday.”
“Amazing way to not only see whales but also the beauty of nature around!”Read More
Lake Stella Mountain Huts
An experience like no other. Accommodation includes four 10-square-metre huts, fitted with everything you need and nothing you don't: a queen-sized bed, wood-burning fire and towels to dry off after a soak in the outdoor tub, with access to shared kitchen and bathroom facilities in the nearby chalet.
One of the most unforgettable and scenic parts of the Alpine Pacific Touring Route, this journey takes around 2 & a half hours.
Our advice is to take even longer so you can stop and explore the rocky coastline south of Kaikōura, detour into Gore Bay and enjoy a long lunch or wine tasting in the North Canterbury Wine Region.
Cathedral Cliffs aka The Cathedrals are a natural marvel near Gore Bay, an absolute hidden gem. Enjoy a quiet moment out of the car marvelling at how nature created something so striking and wondering why there aren’t crowds of people clamouring for a view.
“The perfect place for a selfie.”Read more
Linger over lunch
There are a number of restaurants in the North Canterbury Wine Region. All different and all offering wonderful experiences.
For couples, Black Estate and Pegasus Bay are great options. Black Estate is a remarkable place for organic wine & food and even has a B&B in a romantic and secluded setting. Pegasus Bay’s multi award-winning restaurant overlooks a beautiful manmade lake and gardens and is the perfect place for a stroll.
“Pegasus Bay is the best winery I have ever visited.”
“What a stunning spot with a sparkling view of the Waipara Hills and Black Estate vineyard.”
Punting on the Avon
Sit back in style and glide along the tranquil Avon River in Christchurch, with a skilled punter in traditional Edwardian attire propelling you slowly along the water and pointing out highlights.
Depart from the historic Antigua Boat Sheds and travel through the Botanic Gardens on a relaxing shared 30-minute tour.
“It was bliss and beautiful, our day was made.”
“A charming, traditional experience.”
Experience the majestic sperm whale, playful dusky dolphins and Kaikōura's incredible scenery from above. Wings Over Whales offers year round flights with every passenger having their own window seat and aboard a high winged aircraft so you can enjoy fantastic, unobstructed views.
This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful experiences on earth.
“Fantastic sperm whale encounter. We never expected it to be that breathtaking from above.”Read more
Located in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Hapuku Lodge is a 5 star Eco-Retreat just a few kilometre’s north of Kaikōura.
Nestled 30 feet in the air, the tree houses sit among a native Kanuka Grove underneath the majestic Kaikōura Mountains. This is luxury at its very best.
“Perfect combination of luxury and comfort in an exceptional location.”
“The best stay during our New Zealand trip.”
The Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway juts out from the rugged east coast with a backdrop of steep mountains.
Amble along the walkway observing seals and seabirds, explore historic pā and whaling sites and enjoy the clifftop views of the sea and mountains. This walk takes three hours but you can also explore a range of shorter tracks.
“Make sure you take a camera because the views are fantastic.”
“This is one of the nicest walks we did in New Zealand.”
The Kahutara PurePod is perched high above the Kahutara River with vast views across to the mighty Seaward Kaikōura Mountain Range. It is only 20 minutes inland from Kaikōura and 2.5 hours north of Christchurch.
Driving into the Kahutara PurePod carpark is the start of your unique PurePod adventure as you ford small streams on your way to the secure carpark near the farmhouse. From the carpark, you walk down a grove of trees and across a farm track, in the ever present company of the Seaward Kaikōura Mountain Range.
There are five purepod within the Alpine Pacific to enjoy.