The Alpine Pacific Touring Route could well be one of the most underrated road trip routes in the South Island of New Zealand. With a plethora of activities, three diverse regions, and a whole lot to see, you are spoilt for choice at every click.
We all know that travelling around New Zealand is a photographer's dream. With mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and the ocean right on your doorstep, you better be ready with your camera at every turn. The beauty of the Alpine Pacific Route is you don't have to travel far to be in amongst the incredible scenery. Christchurch is known for its unique architecture and street art. Hurunui is perfect for those wanting to escape into the vines. We know Kaikōura is a mecca for marine life and expansive ocean vistas, plus the vast mountain range is breath-taking in every season.
Join us as we dive into nine worthy photo spots on the Alpine Pacific Touring Route.
Christchurch is diverse, unique, and has something for every budding photographer. Whether an adventure into the port hills for sunset, zipping down a zipline at the adventure park or jumping on the iconic city tram, you will leave with some shots to make those at home envious of your city break.
If you are new to the city and looking to see the sites, hire a bike. Cycling is a great activity for all and an awesome way to take in as much as possible with (or without) a guide. Cycle down New Regent street and transport yourself back in time, surrounded by colourful buildings and architecture. Take a ride through the laneways and stop at the riverside markets to refuel for the afternoon adventure. If you need a little more, why not cycle out to New Brighton Beach and soak in the brand new hot pools overlooking the ocean?
There is no finer way to start your day in Christchurch. After an early morning coffee in the city, meander down to the boatshed and meet the team. Sit back, relax and explore Christchurch from the comfort of punting boat with an expert local guide who will equally let you relax and educate you about the history of Christchurch. The scenery is stunning, and the boats make for an excellent Instagram shot. Don't forget to bring your camera.
New Regent Street
Spice up your feed with a splash of colour on New Regent Street. This little laneway that is home to a row of beautiful pastel coloured store fronts is known as one of the most beautiful streets in New Zealand. The Christchurch tram passes through this street too, giving you the chance to snap two of Christchurch’s icons. Grab a coffee from one of the cafes or sip on a delicious cocktail on the balcony of the Fabel hotel situated at the bottom of the street, we highly recommend heading here at sunset for incredible views over the city.
Bike the vines
Picture this: you are in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by vineyards and wineries, and on two wheels, a recipe for the perfect photo if you ask us. Cycle the Hurunui trail, departing Torlesse wines. Drop into Greystone wines for a quick tasting and carry on through to Black Estate, taking in the delectable scenes on the route.
You might not know this, but tucked behind Hanmer Springs is the St James Conservation Area, 59 km of New Zealand high country perfection. Rolling hills, mountains, rivers, and natural hot springs await during your cycle adventure on the St James Cycle Trail. Rent your bikes from Hanmer adventure and hit the tracks. Opt for an e-bike to maximise your time during this unforgettable journey.
Heading north up the coast on the Alpine Pacific? Dropdown into Gore Bay in Cheviot. This scenic route will showcase to you the diverse nature of the landscape. Clay cliffs meet the ocean, and if you are a keen surfer, the waves are epic here. If you are travelling in a campervan, stay the night at Gore Bay & Buxton Camp for sunrise coffees and peace.
Relax in the thermal hot spring in the centre of Hanmer Springs, the ultimate place to switch off and unwind. A local favourite and a destination in its own right, the Hanmer hot springs are a delight for all. Visit in the early morning for quiet pools and the chance to capture your shots with the hot steam rising into the cold air. This hidden sanctuary is home to multiple fantastic photo opportunities. Pack your action cam for a ride on the slides too!
Did you visit Kaikōura if you didn't visit the lookout? Perfectly placed above the town with views for miles on end. Capture a stunning sunrise panorama looking out over the ocean towards the Kaikōura mountain range or swing around and check out the never-ending beauty down into South Bay. We highly recommend grabbing some fish and chips from town and heading here to end your day of adventure.
Mount Fyffe Hut is one of the south island's most visited backcountry DOC huts, and for a good reason. If you are keen to work for your photography, strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails. The hike gradually climbs through the forest, following a 4WD track majority of the way. Glimpses of the town and ocean below will keep those legs pumping, and the sweet reward at the summit is worth every step. If you fancy staying the night to catch an epic sunset and sunrise, collect your tickets for a night via firstname.lastname@example.org
Paddle in the ocean
Not all photo-worthy locations are on land. Kaikōura is world-renowned for its marine life, and catching a dolphin or two spinning through the air during a paddle with Kaikōura Kayaks is a photographer's dream. Jump on a tour hour kayak tour around the south bay and snap away until your heart's content. Dolphins, Seals, Albatross, and incredible mountain ranges lead the way through these famous seas, and we promise you will not be disappointed. Are you looking for the ultimate shot? Head out at sunrise or sunset of golden light goodness.
You are spoilt for choice with photography, adventure, and memorable experiences to last a lifetime. The Alpine Pacific touring route passes through three diverse and stunning locations. For more information about the Alpine pacific hotspots, follow the link below.
Don't forget to tag us at @alpinepacific.nz so we can share your adventure.