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Canterbury inland scenic route: Christchurch to Lake Tekapo

Burkes Pass

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American Historic Vehicle. Retro Museum in Burke Pass American Historic Vehicle. Retro Museum in Burke Pass

From Fairlie the road travels through the alpine Burkes Pass and onto the MacKenzie high altitude basin (over 900 metres above sea level). Pre-European Maori regularly travelled through the area to the rich plains of the MacKenzie basin on hunting expeditions. By the 1880’s New Zealand’s wild west had arrived with swaggers, gold miners and sheep rustlers passing through. Pastoral farming and the established route through to MacKenzie country cemented the town’s beginnings as a wayside hotel for travellers. Today visitors relish the heritage feel, the sense of timelessness and open spaces where mountains and valleys jostle for attention.


  • Heritage walk including the oldest Union Church in New Zealand, St Patrick’s.
  • Three Creek gallery, collectables and memorabilia gift shop
  • Kids scavenger hunt created by Burkes Pass Heritage Trust
  • Cemetery with its stories of settler lives

The heritage walk includes a replica red Musterers Hut featuring an original fireplace, a livery stable, schoolhouse, stone and cob huts and a blacksmiths. St Patrick’s church is available for hire for weddings.

Three Creeks Art – Gift Shop, the hub of everything

What to do with kids

  • Scavenger hunt
  • Extraordinary collection of objects in Three Creeks shop
  • Visit Burke Scenic Reserve and find golden speargrass while telling the story of a very, rare weevil

Read more Burkes Pass trip guide, what to see & do, best activities: Best Bits.

From Burkes Pass to Lake Tekapo is a mere 15 – 20 minutes. Exploration of the MacKenzie basin, the Southern Alps is at your fingertips. For ideas where to stay and what to do check out Towns in the MacKenzie country, trip guide, things to see: Best Bits and MacKenzie Country, Alpine South Island, 10 things to see: Best Bits.

Connect this trip with the ALPINE SUPERSTAR HIGHWAY – Lake Tekapo to Queenstown via Wanaka and the Crown Range.


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