Christchurch to Wanaka via the West Coast


If you are planning a campervan holiday in New Zealand, and are looking for the best things to do on the west coast of New Zealand, do not miss this Christchurch to Wanaka road trip itinerary! Starting in the thriving hub of Christchurch, you will have the chance to see a real-life kiwi at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, journey into the past at the historic Shantytown Heritage Park, marvel at Lake Matheson, sip on wine at Rippon Valley and more on your way to the adventure capital of the world; Queenstown. Exploring the very best things to do in Greymouth, the best things to do in Hokitika and more, this west coast road trip has it all.


10 days


Christchurch to Wanaka


Best Time of the Year

All year round


  • Arthur's Pass Walking Track
  • Pancake Rocks and Blow Hole
  • Okarito Kayaks
  • Lake Matheson
  • Haast pass

The Journey


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Tourism New Zealand Visual Library

Day 1

To kick off your campervan holiday in New Zealand, pick up your RV rental from the Britz Christchurch branch. Once you have checked for all your motorhome accessories and have the lay of the land with your RV rental, it's time to explore Christchurch.

Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island, and it's also a great place to start your journey. From stunning natural beauty to city shopping, there is plenty to explore here. For a little slice of nature, head over to Christchurch Botanical Gardens, where you can enjoy a walk through acres of New Zealand flora and fauna. If you are keen to see a real-life kiwi, head to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. Here you can see them thriving in their natural environment. Afterwards, head into town for some shopping and stock up your campervan kitchen for the trip.

Next up, make your way to the city's outskirts to explore the vibrant town of Lyttelton. Accessed by an impressive road tunnel, this little port town is full of colourful heritage and creativity. Spend the afternoon perusing the quirky shops and cafes and learning about its rich past, navigating settlements, earthquakes and more.

Stay at: Amber Kiwi Holiday Park & Motel.

Tourism New Zealand Visual Library

Day 2
Christchurch to Arthurs Pass

Distance 181km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 minutes

After stocking up on some final supplies and cooking up a campervan meal, it’s time to hit the road. On the drive, you’ll be treated to a scenic road of viaducts, bridges, and waterfalls. When you arrive, explore Arthur’s Pass Village, then set off to tramp along the Arthurs Pass Walking Track. This walking track is one of the best ways to experience this pass's diverse alpine vegetation and panoramic mountain views. This track is around 7km, so expect this to take around three hours for a return trip. If you are looking for something a little more gentle, Devils Punchbowl Waterfall is another great walk in the national park. Just 2 km, this takes only an hour but delivers equally impressive views.

Stay at: Jacksons Retreat Alpine Holiday Park.

Department of Conservation

Day 3
Arthurs Pass to Greymouth

Distance 142km - Driving Time 2 hours 52 minutes

Leaving this inland village town, begin the journey towards the coast. Greymouth is the largest coastal town on the South Island and is often considered the heart of the west coast. One of the best things to do in Greymouth is visiting the Shantytown Heritage Park. This is the perfect place to learn about the early days of West Coast gold mining. The museum has a replica of an 1880s Shantytown and a heritage train and offers lots of interesting information on how people lived during that time.

Another popular attraction is the Brunner Mine Site. This is one of the few remaining gold mines left on New Zealand's West Coast. Wind your way around the 2 km track, past historic coke ovens, the retired brick factory and mine tunnels.

Stay at: Greymouth Top 10 Holiday Park.

Tourism New Zealand Visual Library

Day 4
Greymouth to Punakaiki

Distance 46km - Driving Time 39 minutes

Continuing a little further north awaits the wild landscapes of Punakaiki. Best known for the Pancake Rocks and Blow Hole, this is a spectacular sight worth the detour. This 1.1km loop offers a front-row seat to these curious limestone formations. The blowholes are at their finest at high tide, so it is worthwhile checking the tides before arriving.

Another unspoiled beauty in this region is the Truman Track. This 1.4km return track winds its way through a subtropical forest of thick wines and palms and emerges over the coastal cliffs.

Stay at: Punakaiki Beach Camp.

Tourism New Zealand Visual Library

Day 5
Punakaiki to Hokitika

Distance 83km - Driving Time 1 hour 7 minutes

Turning around back south, the drive from Punakaiki to Hokitika offers an hour of uninterrupted views of the west coast and the Tasman Sea. When you arrive in Hokitika, the West Coast Treetop Walk & Cafe is a must-do activity. This 450-metre walk takes place 20-metres above the ground, amongst the canopy of Rimu and Kamahi trees. Marvel at the stunning biodiversity of this walk and soak up the epic views. If you find yourself in Hokitika in the summer months, the Wildfoods Festival is easily one of the best things to do in Hokitika. This celebration of the flavours and produce of this region is a perfect addition for foodies looking to experience the classic flavours of New Zealand.

After a big day of adventuring, make your way to Hokitika Beach for an afternoon swim and a picnic before making your way to accommodation for the evening.

Stay at: Hokitika Holiday Park.

Day 6
Hokitika to Okarito

Distance 127km - Driving Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Continuing along the rugged west coastline, day six brings us to the sheltered wetlands of Okarito. If you prefer hikes, Okarito Walking Tracks offer a range of stunning hikes through the lush native forest and surrounding alps. If you are looking to take advantage of the calm waters of Okarito, stop by Okarito Lagoon and Beach. Covering an area of 12 km, this lagoon is New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland and offers endless opportunities to see local flora and fauna. Okarito Kayaks is the perfect way to experience these peaceful waterways. You can choose to rent a kayak for $60 per person or join a tour for $130 per person.

Stay at: Okarito Campground.

Tourism New Zealand Visual Library

Day 7
Okarito to Fox Glacier

Distance 51km - Driving Time 51 minutes

Begin the journey into the mountains with a morning drive from Okarito to Fox Glacier. When you arrive, we recommend going on a Heli Hike. This is one of the best things to do in the west coast (or at least one of the most unique!). This tour combines the thrill of helicopter transfers and walking on a glacier with an experienced guide!

Another classic must-do attraction is Lake Matheson. This picture-perfect lake is best visited in the daytime when Mount Cook is reflected in the gloomy waters of the lake. Pack your camera and capture a shot, or simply sit on the banks, soaking up this magical view.

Stay at: Fox Glacier Top 10 Holiday Park.

Day 8
Fox Glacier to Haast

Distance 119km - Driving Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Today's drive brings us to the coastal community of Haast, on the edge of the west coast wilderness. There is no better way to experience this area than with a boat trip down Haast Pass. A jet boat is a ride that is a right of passage when travelling through New Zealand, and this South Westland World Heritage area is an idyllic setting for it! Then, once you have experienced the rush out on the water, slow things down with a stroll along the Hapuka Estuary Walk.

Stay at: Haast River Motels & Holiday Park.

Day 9
Haast to Wanaka

Distance 143km - Driving Time 1 hour 50 minutes

After enjoying a final campervan meal at the campsite, it's time to say goodbye to the coast and head inland toward Wanaka. This iconic and lively town is overflowing with stunning scenery and unbeatable attractions. First up, head to Doughbin bakery to grab a freshly baked good of your choice. Then take a stop by That Wanaka Tree. If you’re a photographer, capture your unique spin on this iconic solo tree or simply marvel at this resilient and photogenic tree. Then spend the afternoon relaxing with a glass of your favourite wine at Rippon Winery.

Stay at: Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park.

Day 10
Wanaka to Queenstown (via Arrowtown)

Distance 119km - Driving Time 1 hour 35 minutes

The journey from Wanaka to Queenstown via Arrowtown is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. The road winds its way through the Southern Alps and takes you past stunning lakes, waterfalls and quaint small towns, and offers plenty of must-see places to stop along the way. Arrowtown is one such place. Arrowtown is a charming and quirky town hallmarked for its place in the gold rush era. While here, stop by the Chinese Settlement Arrowtown. This offers a unique snapshot of life in the gold rush.

Driving the final stretch of the journey, it’s time to explore the adventure capital of the world: Queenstown. There is no better way to see this little mountain town than with a ride on the Skyline in Queenstown. If you have some extra time, there is plenty to explore around town. Otherwise, it’s time to bring this epic west coast road trip and drop off your campervan rental at the Britz Queenstown Branch.

Ready to explore more of New Zealand’s South Island?

If you are planning a west coast road trip, this Christchurch to Wanaka itinerary (or, done in reverse, Wanaka to Christchurch) can not be missed. Whether you are looking to explore wild, historic landscapes, try on the New Zealand adventure lifestyle, or simply experience the magical vistas that the South Island is known for, this itinerary has a little something for everyone.

Ready to explore more of New Zealand’s South Island with a campervan holiday in New Zealand? Book your Britz campervan online today and then pick it up at the most convenient Britz branch for your West Coast road trip.