Haast UNESCO World Heritage Site
Touring Routes

A West Coast road trip: Queenstown to Christchurch

Get your camera ready for this breathtaking road trip from Queenstown to Christchurch via the West Coast.

Road trips
4 days,3 nights
454 mi/731 km
Best time

Day 1: Queenstown to Haast

2 hrs 57 min, 206 km

The drive from Queenstown to Haast follows State Highway 6, a scenic drive through forest-clad mountains and past several impressive waterfalls, just a short walk from the laybys en route.

Arrive in Haast, gateway to Te Wāhipounamu – 2.6 million hectares of wilderness internationally recognised by UNESCO for its unique natural beauty. Stay the night, taste fresh whitebait or crayfish at Jackson Bay or explore by jet boat with Waiatoto River Safari or Haast River Safari. The wildlife is abundant here, spot fur seals, Hector's dolphins and Fiordland crested penguins.

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Local Attractions

Day 2: Haast to Fox Glacier

1 hr 32 min, 121 km

Tucked into the forested foothills of the Southern Alps, Fox Glacier township has a relaxed village feel. To see the giant glacier it’s named after, you can walk to a viewpoint or get even closer on a guided heli-hike or scenic flight.

The short walk around Lake Matheson will quickly reveal why it’s the most photographed lake in New Zealand. The still waters perfectly reflect the snowy peaks of Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. Carry on down the road to Gillespies Beach for rugged ocean views, gold mining history and scenic walking tracks.

Another wonderfully wild windswept beach can be found at Bruce Bay – or Mahitahi – a small coastal settlement with stunning sea vistas 40 km south of Fox Glacier.

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Local Attractions

Day 3: Fox Glacier to Kumara

2 hrs 29 min, 185 km

Home to rare wildlife, Ōkārito and Whataroa should be on any nature lover’s list. New Zealand’s largest unmodified wetland and bird watchers' paradise, Ōkārito is best explored by water. Hire a kayak or glide through the water on an eco-friendly boat tour.

History comes to life in Ross, where you can pan for gold at the Ross Goldfields Information Centre, or riverside at Jones Creek. It was here that the country’s largest ever nugget was found, weighing in at a massive 3.1 kg.

Continue on to West Coast Treetop Walk & Cafe, an exhilarating tree top adventure among temperate rainforest giants.

The cool little town of Hokitika was once the goldfields capital and port. These days the gold lies in the many artists’ studios (working precious stones, pounamu and glass), tasty food joints, and a long sandy beach perfect for West Coast sunset watching.

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Local Attractions

Day 4: Kumara to Christchurch

3 hrs, 219 km

Grab an early lunch en route at Kumara’s Theatre Royal Hotel, a fully restored miners’ hotel that dates back to Kumara’s rough, tough gold-mining heyday. Continue to Canterbury via Arthur’s Pass, a spectacular journey.

Arthur’s Pass National Park is in the heart of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana. Its high mountains with large scree slopes, steep gorges and wide braided rivers straddle the main divide, forming the backbone of the South Island.

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Local Attractions

Fishing on Lake Brunner

$675 - full day. $350 - 1/2 day. $200 - 2 hours.

Moana Trout Fishing Safari

Guided fishing tours lakes, rivers and streams. Try your luck at sight casting to wild browns.

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Lake Brunner, Moana

Lake Brunner is the largest lake in the region with year-round trout fishing.

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Lake Brunner

Moana is a town that sits on the edge of Lake Brunner near Greymouth, West Coast.

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