Advice needed Christchurch to Queenstown Drive (August)

SnowBound

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So my Wife and I have decided to drive from Christchurch to Queenstown in August this year.

This'll be my first time doing the drive so I was looking for any advice on:

a) Places to stop (not overnight, just for photos or lunch etc).
b) Route to take (being aware of snow and ice etc).
c) What to expect (setting off from CC early morning on a Friday).

Love some feedback from those who have done it.

Thanks legends.
 

Donzah

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My favoured route is
Out to Darfield
Then down pass Mt Hutt
Geraldine
Fairlie
Lunch at Tekapo

Photos Tekapo
Pukaki

Then Tarras
Cromwell
QT
 

TOFF

Triple premiership Pants man
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Have driven straight down the coast once as well as the routes described above several times.
Your can’t go wrong and both are spectacular.
 
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Zimbooo

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If you have time after scoffing down pies, just past Twizel is a Salmon Farm. Catch your own (in about 10 seconds), cook it at accom in QT when you get there if you have a kitchen. Bit of fun.
P.S. Sore neck on left side from looking right for hours on end during the drive.
 

Zimbooo

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Just one more thought.........If you do have time and a bit of cash, consider a stop over in Tekapo and take a flight over Mt Cook and surrounds. AMAZING!
 

Zimbooo

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Or if you have a couple of spare days, and the weather works, zip over Arthur's Pass to the West Coast and zap back over the Haast Pass to Queenstown.
Train to Greymouth, then hire car from Greymouth is what we have done. Was spectacular!!!
 

Libelle

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If you have time after scoffing down pies, just past Twizel is a Salmon Farm. Catch your own (in about 10 seconds), cook it at accom in QT when you get there if you have a kitchen. Bit of fun.
P.S. Sore neck on left side from looking right for hours on end during the drive.

And just down the road is Omarama, take a glider flight into the alps.
 
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teckel

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Train to Greymouth, then hire car from Greymouth is what we have done. Was spectacular!!!
Greymouth is a dump. But, big but, the drive from Chch to Kumara & south to Haast is spectacular. Not sure if you'd get over Arthurs Pass in the winter though. Train to Greymouth probably a good idea, just get out of Greymouth as soon as you get the car.
 

Donzah

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Greymouth is a dump. But, big but, the drive from Chch to Kumara & south to Haast is spectacular. Not sure if you'd get over Arthurs Pass in the winter though. Train to Greymouth probably a good idea, just get out of Greymouth as soon as you get the car.
Grey is funny.
It's changed. Yet it hasn't.
Hokitika is just down the road.
Driftwood. Sunsets and black sand .
 

geeoff

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If you take the usual route and end up on State highway 8 the first part is through undulating green farmland. Near Lake Tekapo you move into a plain between 2 ranges which is fairly dry but with spectacular views of southern alps. If you have low level snow the most dodgy section will be Lindis Pass past Omarama. Around Cromwell you move back into farmland with some great wineries (Central Otago region). Recommend visiting one or two if you have time.
 
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Donzah

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I hate.
With passion.
The flat straight version to Ashburton.
Shithouse rd
 

Zimbooo

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Greymouth is a dump. But, big but, the drive from Chch to Kumara & south to Haast is spectacular. Not sure if you'd get over Arthurs Pass in the winter though. Train to Greymouth probably a good idea, just get out of Greymouth as soon as you get the car.
Good Fush n Chups in Greymouth!!
 

xuěboarder

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I think that image copied really badly.
But this was the route I took, similar to some mentioned above. Absolutely all time driving and views. Defs stop for a fairlie pie, pics in tekapo and twizel, drive up to Mt. Cook if you have time.
Jackson Orchards also in Cromwell also does an good tour of their grounds and gives you about 5kg fresh fruit.
 

Donzah

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wvGIiFEdh3tdvSKYs87PuFfk2-zn4cpbghudue9DkGlO3AWdUpPl79UUPbBsBwATJ4-Ww7kSsP-uJPI2PBgRDCYBWlfFzUnvee_GcgpuBR54-VPSrrSMX4XeDPFkUSU8GSXzkO8V

I think that image copied really badly.
But this was the route I took, similar to some mentioned above. Absolutely all time driving and views. Defs stop for a fairlie pie, pics in tekapo and twizel, drive up to Mt. Cook if you have time.
Jackson Orchards also in Cromwell also does an good tour of their grounds and gives you about 5kg fresh fruit.
No to the road to Ashburton thanks
Boring as hell. Straight flat and full of trucks
Head inland to 77

Re the west coast route
This is the only way to drive down the coast at the moment
Road is shut at FJ to Fox
1554679423833.jpg
 
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xuěboarder

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No to the road to Ashburton thanks
Boring as hell. Straight flat and full of trucks
Head inland to 77

Re the west coast route
This is the only way to drive down the coast at the moment
Road is shut at FJ to Fox
1554679423833.jpg
Yeah that was probably the most uneventful part of the journey tbh.
I dont usually recommend west coast unless you want to do club fields or glaciers
There's nothing over there. Around castle hill was nice, otherwise we always go the main way down.
 
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Snow Blowey

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Suggestion for Mt Cook village and surround here. If off the track but amazing easy day walks amongst the galciers and big hills. I happily exchanged skiing days for some walking around there.
 
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snowgum

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How's this?

Screenshot 2019-04-10 19.32.26.png

The resident Kiwis here would not better than I. But I've done 3-4 of winter crossings of Lindis Pass - one at night. Definitely try to time it for a day crossing and take the long descent towards Cromwell carefully.
 
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BMWRX

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While we're discussing routes to the ski fields, what is the best road to go from QT to Cardrona? Straight route along Crown Range Rd, or a round trip via Malaghans Rd (the road to Coronet)? Both meet up at Arrow Junction before crossing the range, so there's no avoiding the hardest part of the drive. They are similar times on Google maps directions but I've learned that doesn't necessarily mean that they will equal enjoyment.
 

ScottGN

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The resident Kiwis here would not better than I. But I've done 3-4 of winter crossings of Lindis Pass - one at night. Definitely try to time it for a day crossing and take the long descent towards Cromwell carefully.
The route out via Darfield and Mt Hutt is great but adds a fair bit to the trip. As has been mentioned the coast road via Ashburton and Timaru is flat and boring. A good compromise (which most people who do the drive regularly do) is the Rakaia to Mayfield road and then on to Geraldine. After you cross the Rakaia River south from Christchurch hang a right at the next intersection onto what’s called Thompson’s Track. It crosses the plains heading towards the village of Mayfield. Take care at the intersections to follow the signs or you’ll end up in Ashburton. After Mayfield it’s an easy run to Geraldine and back onto the Inland Scenic Route to Mackenzie Country.
The Otago side of the Lindis is usually the most tricky with heavy frost likely at anytime of the day in August. Once I came over to find a campervan in the ditch and the kids onboard sitting on roadside in their foldaway chairs, wrapped in duvets and drinking beer while they waited for the towie.
 
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Donzah

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The route out via Darfield and Mt Hutt is great but adds a fair bit to the trip. As has been mentioned the coast road via Ashburon and Timaru is flat and boring. A good compromise (which most people who do the drive regularly do) is the Rakaia to Mayfield road and then on to Geraldine. After you cross the Raikaia River south from Christchurch hang a right at the next intersection onto what’s called Thompson’s Track. It crosses the plains heading towards the village of Mayfield. Take care at the intersections to follow the signs or you’ll end up in Ashburton. After Mayfield it’s an easy run to Geraldine and back onto the Inland Scenic Route to Mackenzie Country.
The Otago side of the Lindis is usually the most tricky with heavy frost likely at anytime of the day in August. Once I came over to find a campervan in the ditch and the kids onboard sitting on roadside in their foldaway chairs, wrapped in duvets and drinking beer while they waited for the towie.
The drive to Ashburton is a dead ringer to the drive to Bairnsdale from Melbourne in Victoria.
Flat, straight. Ag and irrigation.
 

geeoff

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The drive to Ashburton is a dead ringer to the drive to Bairnsdale from Melbourne in Victoria.
Flat, straight. Ag and irrigation.
Traffic slow also.
While we're discussing routes to the ski fields, what is the best road to go from QT to Cardrona? Straight route along Crown Range Rd, or a round trip via Malaghans Rd (the road to Coronet)? Both meet up at Arrow Junction before crossing the range, so there's no avoiding the hardest part of the drive. They are similar times on Google maps directions but I've learned that doesn't necessarily mean that they will equal enjoyment.
Beware of the Crown range in bad conditions! It’s dodgy. Saw multiple accidents one year on downhill section towards Cardrona.
If icy or snowy may pay to drive all way round past Cromwell.
 

ScottGN

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The other thing about the Christchurch-Ashburton-Timaru option is which way do you go when you’ve got to Timaru? Do you cut up the Waitaki via Kurow to Omarama and then on over the Lindis or continue south to Palmerston in North Otago and then head onto the Pig Root to Ranfurly and the Maniatoto and across to Alex?
 

Draizuh

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The route out via Darfield and Mt Hutt is great but adds a fair bit to the trip. As has been mentioned the coast road via Ashburton and Timaru is flat and boring. A good compromise (which most people who do the drive regularly do) is the Rakaia to Mayfield road and then on to Geraldine. After you cross the Rakaia River south from Christchurch hang a right at the next intersection onto what’s called Thompson’s Track. It crosses the plains heading towards the village of Mayfield. Take care at the intersections to follow the signs or you’ll end up in Ashburton. After Mayfield it’s an easy run to Geraldine and back onto the Inland Scenic Route to Mackenzie Country.
The Otago side of the Lindis is usually the most tricky with heavy frost likely at anytime of the day in August. Once I came over to find a campervan in the ditch and the kids onboard sitting on roadside in their foldaway chairs, wrapped in duvets and drinking beer while they waited for the towie.
Yeah i also go via Thompsons Track. Its boring as bat shit but better than being on SH1 and quicker than going via darfield.
 

Red_switch

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The other thing about the Christchurch-Ashburton-Timaru option is which way do you go when you’ve got to Timaru? Do you cut up the Waitaki via Kurow to Omarama and then on over the Lindis or continue south to Palmerston in North Otago and then head onto the Pig Root to Ranfurly and the Maniatoto and across to Alex?
Honestly, for your average Aussie who's not stoked on winter driving, I wouldn't recommend going further south than the Waitaki - which is a nice drive, and until you get to the Lindis Pass, way, way, way, way less prone to ice/snow etc that alternatives further south.

I drive Dunedin to Qtown/Wanaka at least once a fortnight during winter, usually more, almost never use the Pigroot in winter. It's a nice drive, but there are a number of pinch points that make the trip very slow in snowy/icy conditions (which are common, especially at the eastern end, and even more so if you take the Middlemarch variation through Clarks Junction.

That said, SH8 isn't much better (and I suspect, one of the more freezing raine prone places in NZ).
 

ScottGN

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Honestly, for your average Aussie who's not stoked on winter driving, I wouldn't recommend going further south than the Waitaki - which is a nice drive, and until you get to the Lindis Pass, way, way, way, way less prone to ice/snow etc that alternatives further south.

I drive Dunedin to Qtown/Wanaka at least once a fortnight during winter, usually more, almost never use the Pigroot in winter. It's a nice drive, but there are a number of pinch points that make the trip very slow in snowy/icy conditions (which are common, especially at the eastern end, and even more so if you take the Middlemarch variation through Clarks Junction.

That said, SH8 isn't much better (and I suspect, one of the more freezing raine prone places in NZ).
My scariest driving experience the whole time I lived in the South was on SH8 between Milton and Lawrence. Cornered too fast, fairly late one night on what turned out to be black ice on a shaded area of the road. Luckily all I did was fishtail and spin a 180 and there was no on-coming traffic. I have never liked that stretch of road since and have driven every possible variant route between Queenstown and Dunedin to avoid it.
 

Red_switch

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My scariest driving experience the whole time I lived in the South was on SH8 between Milton and Lawrence. Cornered too fast, fairly late one night on what turned out to be black ice on a shaded area of the road. Luckily all I did was fishtail and spin a 180 and there was no on-coming traffic. I have never liked that stretch of road since and have driven every possible variant route between Queenstown and Dunedin to avoid it.
I reckon I know exactly where that happened... I've had some wild trips, but if it's bad through there, the Pigroot will almost invariably be worse, and it doesn't get as much maintenance attention.

Sometimes I wish the miners had been a bit more ambitious with their tunneling.
 

snowgum

A Local
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The drive to Ashburton is a dead ringer to the drive to Bairnsdale from Melbourne in Victoria.
Flat, straight. Ag and irrigation.

...and fairly boring!

At least on our first NZ road it was new & intriguing. But yes, a bit like Sale to Bairnsdale, with the rail line alongside. Etc...

And both highways /areas have mountains looming in the distance! At least in NZ they're big & often (visibly) snowy!!
 

Donzah

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We’re currently driving from Queenstown to Christchurch and stopped in for a pie based on this advice. I had a pork belly and apple sauce pie and it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten.
I've had that pie... Yummo
 

Peanut

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...and fairly boring!

At least on our first NZ road it was new & intriguing. But yes, a bit like Sale to Bairnsdale, with the rail line alongside. Etc...

And both highways /areas have mountains looming in the distance! At least in NZ they're big & often (visibly) snowy!!
I used to live in Sale, and drove to visit family in Queanbeyan fairly frequently. I hated the bit between Cooma and the ACT border way more than the bit between Sale and Bairnsdale.

I was pretty surprised at exactly how long and straight that bit around Ashburton is though. I was kind of relieved to not be driving that bit. I drove from Queenstown to Fairlie, then made hubby drive after our pies and some time on the playground for the kids. It got dark while we were on that long straight bit, which wasn’t helped by the 8 year old needing to take a 30 min toilet break at the public toilet at Hinds. That was a very cold 20 mins for me standing outside waiting before I cracked the sads and made hubby take over.
 

snowgum

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It was a pretty big bit of crackling too. So good...

Funny, I used to live on Sale too. In the 70s, which dates me so what.
(Better stop before everyone groans!)

If you ever do a similar trip try to build in some time for a smaller field or two (Dobson is OK, Ohau can be steep up high, didn't do Roundhill - looked a bit mellow but would be fine for kids).

Akoroa near Christchurch is a real gem. It's spending a night or two (and a day to explore!) at the start or end of the trip - has a mild climate surrounded by sea - so a nice foil to the cold & snow of the interior.
 
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