Sunset Motels Guide Fox Glacier to Christchurch

Linsey Evans

Drive from Fox Glacier to Christchurch. A local's tips to driving along the West Coast, through Arthurs Pass to finish in Christchurch.





251 mi / 405 km



Day One: 26 mins, 23.3 km

Fox Glacier to Franz Josef

About the day

Fox Glacier to Franz Josef - The half an hour drive to Franz Josef is over the Fox hills. This is quite a windy piece of road going through native bush towards Franz Josef.

Franz Josef Glacier - The turn off to the Franz Josef Glacier is just before you come into the town ship. There are many different ways and routes to view the glacier. If you continue to the carpark at the end of the road leading to the Glacier there are route maps and details.


Day Two: 1 hour 41 mins, 134 km

Franz Josef Glacier - Hokitika

About the day

Franz Josef - Hokitika

Lake Mapourika - Lake Mapourika is another reflection lake on the west coast. The lake was formed by glacial formation between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago. This is a popular fishing lake with an annual Salmon fishing competition.

Okarito Lagoon  - Okarito is located just after Lake Wahapo. The village is full of locals and also holiday homes. A great retreat and place of relaxation! There is a kiwi sanctuary located here with the Okarito Brown Kiwi. This is also a great spot for bird watching and kayaking on the lagoon.

Whataroa  - Whataroa is a small town. The White Heron tours are run from Whataroa with cruises along the lakes and rivers to show you these majestic birds in their natural habitat.

Whataroa  - Hari Hari (pronounced Harry Harry) is another small town. The road is very straight through town, so make sure you stick to the 50kmph speed limit as this is known to catch a few people out. This is a good place to stop for a drink. Drop into the Pukeko tea rooms.

Pukekura/Lake Ianthe  - Pukekura is nestled into the rimu and matai forests within the Waitaha and Kakapotahi reserves. The Bushman’s centre is located on the main highway. The centre has local art and bushman crafts. You can also try a possum pie here.

Ross  - Ross is known on the West Coast for the Goldrush of the West Coast. You can visit the Goldminers area just off Aylmer Street. Look at the cottages and try your hand at gold panning. Ross is the location of the largest open-cast alluvial mine in the Southern Hemisphere.

Hokitika  - Hokitika is known as the Jade and Greenstone area of the coast. This is the perfect place to buy greenstone as it is sourced from the West Coast so this makes it cheaper than other cities in New Zealand. There are many galleries to choose from. There is also the National Kiwi Centre here. With feeding of the Eels, viewings of Kiwis and Tuatara its a great place to stop. There are also banks and a supermarket in Hokitika.


Day Three: 1 hour 3 mins, 85.8 km

Hokitika to Otira

About the day

Greymouth - Otira

Greymouth - 15 minutes drive from Kumara Junction. Greymouth also has the greenstone and jade galleries that are based in Hokitika. Greymouth is the station that the TranzAlpine train departs from.  Shantytown is based just off the main road heading north into Greymouth. This is a model village built based on the nineteenth century gold mining towns.

Kumara Junction  - This is the main route through Arthurs Pass towards Christchurch.

Otira Gorge  - After coming through Jacksons you come to the Otira Gorge. The gorge is where the road comes over the Otira River. The Otira Gorge is a large bridge. The planning to redevelop the bridge started in 1987, with construction starting in 1997. The bridge is built to withstand earthquakes, upto 40 times more powerful than most structures are built to.  You can walk the Otira valley track crosses over an old glacier moraine.


Day Four: 2 hours 19 mins, 163 km

Otira to Christchurch

About the day

Otira - Christchurch

Arthurs Pass Village - Arthurs Pass village is nestled in the middle of a deep valley. The winter is pretty harsh on this small settlement with July temperatures getting down to -2 degree Celsius. Located in the town is a petrol station, cafes and a police station. The pass was named after Arthur Dudley Dobson who was the first European person to cross the pass in 1864.

Flock Hill  - Flock Hill Station is still a functioning farm based all around the area, there is a cafe and accommodation here.

Cave Stream  - If you need to stretch your legs Cave Stream is a great place to do it. There are limestone boulders scattered around this area. At the Cave Stream reserve there is a cave, if you are experienced it is a great short trip around the cave. If you are unsure or have any doubts just look into the cave from the start and don’t enter it.

Castle Hill Scenic Reserve  - A great destination for rock climbers wanting something different, like climbing on and over limestone boulders. There are now public toilets here.

Porters Pass  - At the height of 945m this is the last pass on the way into the Canterbury Plains.  Lake Lyndon is in this area. During the winter months this lake can totally freeze over. If you are going to walk on the frozen lake be very careful.

Springfield and Canterbury Plains  - Springfield is a small town. When the Simpson Movie was released in New Zealand a large donut sculpture has been put up in the reserve in the centre of the town.

Christchurch  - Coming into Christchurch after the township of Yaldhurst you will come to a large intersection with a Caltex Garage on the opposite corner. Going left at this intersection will lead you to Christchurch International Airport. Going right at this intersection will lead you to the roads heading south or to Akaroa. Going straight ahead will lead you to Riccarton and also the Central City.


Itinerary Map

About the author

Linsey Evans, Manager of Sunset Motels Fox Glacier

Bruce, Linsey & baby Shelby are a young and hard working couple that love to meet new people and do new things. They are who will welcome you if you stay at Sunset Motels Fox Glacier.
This couple have completed most of the activities in the Glacier Country are and are happy to advise guests on which activities best suit what you are wanting while in the are.