Christchurch to Jackson Bay

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by Hertz AU - 21 January 2019

The road trip from Christchurch to Jackson Bay takes in some of the most stunning scenery that New Zealand’s South Island has to offer. With so much to see on this journey, it’s worth taking time to do the drive over the course of a few days, planning for activities and overnight stays along the way.


Begin your trip by picking up your rental car in Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city. In recent years, Christchurch has been rebuilding and overcoming grief that was brought on by one of New Zealand’s worst ever earthquakes. Take time to explore the city and you’ll discover a resilient place, with warm, welcoming energy.

Castle Hill

After the short drive inland from Christchurch, you’ll arrive in Castle Hill, located in the Canterbury High Country at an altitude of 700m. The area is characterised by its distinctive limestone rock formations and boasts some of New Zealand’s most cinematic landscape. In 2005, battle scenes for the The Chronicles of Narnia movie were filmed here. Castle Hill is an adventurers paradise, and is an exceptional place to visit for those interested in bouldering.

Arthur's Pass National Park

If you don’t fancy staying in Castle Hill for the night, just a short 40-minute drive away is Arthur’s Pass National Park, which lies in the heart of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.

The mountain range is known as the ‘backbone’ of the South Island and the pass operates as the main link between the east and west coast. Crossing it is a definite highlight of any visit to the South Island.

There are all manner of adventures to be had in Arthur’s Pass, depending on the season. In summer, hiking and mountain biking provide ample opportunity for exploring the area. During winter, people flock here for the ski fields. The views and ski runs in the Temple Basin Ski Area are particularly impressive.


From Arthur’s Pass, continue west for Hokitika, just over an hour away. Hokitika is a historic town and was first settled in 1860 after gold was discovered on the west coast. These days, Hokitika attracts visitors for its vibe and its proximity to many of the South Island’s most beautiful sites. Visit Hokitika Gorge to walk across its famous swing bridge and marvel at the otherworldly colour of the blue water below. Hokitika’s location on the west coast also makes it the ideal place to take in a sunset – and the ones here are nothing short of spectacular.

Glacier Country

Just under a two hour drive south of Hokitika is Glacier Country – one of New Zealand’s absolute highlights. The Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier are the most accessible in the world – and exploring them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Aside from exploring the glaciers, you can also go kayaking on the lakes, as well as skydiving over the Southern Alps. The vast mirror lakes also offer unique photo opportunities and a wonderful stillness worth embracing. After a long day of driving, make it your business to go for a relaxing dip in one of the area’s hot pools. There’s really nothing better.

Jackson Bay

The final leg of this journey sees us heading for Jackson Bay, an isolated fishing village situated deep down on the south western coast. With spectacular views of the ocean and the Southern Alps, Jackson Bay is the perfect place for time off-the-grid.

There are lots of good walking trails in the area, ranging from a 15-minute track to Jackson Viewpoint, or the more challenging two-day hike inland that returns along the coast. Either way, there’s nothing more refreshing than getting out in the country air.

New Zealand’s South Island is quite unlike anywhere else. With natural beauty in abundance and lots to see and do, it’s easy to see why it’s rated as one of the best travel destinations in the world.

Hire a rental car from Hertz and plan your own road trip through New Zealand’s South Island.


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Article by Hertz AU

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