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Upper South Island Road Trip

HIGHLIGHT ON YOUR TOP OF THE SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP

  • Adventure, round where west meets wild New Zealand on the South Island, West Coast
  • A scenic route through a roll call of 19th century gold mining towns, Murchison, Buller Gorge & Reefton
  • Hanmer Springs, soak away the cares of the world in warm natural pools
  • Wine trails in the lesser known Hurunui district (Cheviot)
  • Kaikoura meet and greet the majestic whales off the coast and sample local crayfish
  • Marlborough award-winning wineries and the Queen Charlotte Sounds mail boat cruise
  • Brilliant Nelson where gold-tinted sandy beaches, lush forest and foodie trails in one of New Zealand’s top spots awaits

 

The touring route has options to fit the interests of families from adrenaline jet boating, testing your bee keeping credentials, or short strolls along 19th gold prospecting trails. Local arts and crafts, farmers weekend markets add a dash of retail therapy.

Trip Overview

Top of New Zealand, unless you are from the North Island


Duration: 5 days, 6 nights
Start Nelson
Finish Nelson

Camera Stops
30 and counting

Nearest Airport
Nelson / Blenheim
December to April

Highlights:

  • Spooners Tunnel walk (part of the Great Taste Trail)
  • Buller Gorge road hugging corners past turbulent white white river
  • Murchison and adrenaline lacked attractions
  • Abandoned cemeteries, forgotten towns
  • Lyell Cemetery and Old Ghost Trail

 

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The road trip is suitable for motorhomes

 

SUNSHINE CAPITAL OF NEW ZEALAND, NELSON – THE BEGINNING

Nelson to Murchison Route Map

State Highway 6 from Nelson to Murchison passing Brightwater, Wakefield, Murchison

185 km 2 ¾ hours

MURCHISON ACTIVITIES

WILD RIVER RAFTING – MURCHISON

Raft the legendary “Earthquake Rapids” – a classic New Zealand whitewater raft run through a stunning rain forest.

Buller Canyon Jet Ride, New Zealand @Buller Canyon Jet Reservations
Buller Canyon Jet Ride, New Zealand @Buller Canyon Jet Reservations

ADVENTURE – BULLER GORGE JET BOATING 

The Buller River is a natural obstacle course offering authentic spins with the river mapping the way. The Buller River, flowing through narrow granite gorges the river boils and roars its way past Murchison. Unbeatable thrills. The standard jet boat ride duration is four hours through the Buller gorges. BULLER CANYON JET – Murchison is the only jet boat permitted to operate on the Buller River.

BULLER GORGE JET BOAT LOCATION

Tour agency: 34 Waller Street, Murchison 7191, New Zealand

 

INTERESTING FACT – SIX MILE ELECTRICITY PLANT WALK

Discover a treasured piece of New Zealand’s economic history on a gravel road, off the beaten track waiting for visitors to respect the locals who came up with the idea of electricity… find out more Six Mile Electricity Plant walk.

BULLER GORGE SWING BRIDGE VIEWPOINT LOCATION

Driving to the Maruia waterfalls from Murchison towards Westport on SH6 stop at the Buller Bridge lookout point for views of the swing bridge and the Buller River.

LET’S EXPLORE WILD, WHITE WATER BULLER RIVER 

On the road again with the promise of dramatic scenery around every hairpin bend of the Buller Gorge. Awesome scenery, breathtaking with the narrow gorge creating a white water showpiece. This part of the road trip is about fabulous, glorious South Island scenery. For even jaded New Zealanders the road from Murchison is one of the most beautiful in the country. 

The Buller gorge flows through a deep canyon between Murchison and Westport.  There are two sections to the gorge, Upper Buller Gorge and Lower Buller Gorge. State Highway 6 runs alongside the gorge through cut rock faces and the river is your companion. There are stupendous moments where you are suspended between the river and the road.

REEFTON – TOWN OF LIGHT

KIDS – NEW ZEALAND LARGEST SKATEPARK, MOUNTAIN BIKES & SCOOTERS WELCOME

Skateboarding park is well signposted. There is a heritage train and campground next door to one of New Zealand’s largest skateparks, mountain bikes, scooters are welcome. What a great civic amenity largely built by volunteers. Reefton, it’s awesome.

 

Reefton Skatepark Location

WAIUTA – DETOUR – BACK OF BEYOND ABANDONED MINE TOWN

Abandoned gold mine Waiuta, West Coast, NZ
Abandoned gold mine Waiuta

Further afield is the abandoned coal mining town of WAIUTA. Ghosts and abandoned buildings in a remote location is a fascinating trip into the past. Waiuta is a great day trip from Reefton. Grab the opportunity while in the neighbourhood to get an extraordinary glimpse into a town where the coal was mined at the greatest depths achieved in Australia and New Zealand.

More about Waiuta

 

Reefton to Waiuta 40 minutes 37 km (last section narrow, winding gravel road)

Goodbye West Coast, Hello Hanmer Springs, Hot Pools & Beech Forest Walks

Blacks Point Museum, Springs Junction, Marble Hill Camping Ground, Sluice Box hike to Lake Daniel, Waterfall walk, Lewis Pass Nature Walk,  Maruia Hot Springs, Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura

 

Driving distance:

Reefton to Kaikoura – 307 km

Reefton to Hanmer Springs173 km

 

You will pass through the dappled light of mature beech forests lining the route into the Lewis mountain pass through to the Canterbury region.  It is a journey from the west coast with its temperature rainforests to the drier east coast.

 

REEFTON TO KAIKOURA

HANMER SPRINGS TO KAIKOURA, WHALES, SEAFOOD AND COASTAL VIEWS

Hanmer Springs, Waiau, Mount Lyford, Kaikoura

Driving distance 130 km, highway 70 inland route

 

KAIKOURA TO BLENHEIM  – OUTSTANDING COASTAL SCENERY

Today you are following the coast to Blenheim. The road hugs the coast with spectacular views of the ocean, sheer cliffs rising out of the sea and constant muted sounds of the sea. Then you swoop over the dry hills of Marlborough with its farms and rural countryside. As you near Blenheim peeping into view are vineyards and vats of wineries.

 

BLENHEIM TO NELSON – FINISH THE TOP OF THE SOUTH ISLAND WITH AN AWESOME DRIVE

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BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE

Best Bits travel guide is published by nzjane.com. Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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