Christchurch to the West Coast via Motorhome – a travellers guide

Welcome to the Christchurch to West Coast Motorhome Getaway! This guide is designed to help you make the most of your two-day adventure from Christchurch to the stunning West Coast of New Zealand. Whether you're a seasoned traveller or embarking on your first motorhome journey, this concise guide will provide you with essential information, tips, and insights to ensure your trip is a memorable one.

The journey from Christchurch to the West Coast is a scenic delight, offering a diverse range of landscapes, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences. In just two days, you'll witness the natural beauty of New Zealand, from the fertile plains of Canterbury to the breathtaking Arthur's Pass and on to the rugged West Coast.

Planning Your Quick Escape

Planning is key to a successful two-day motorhome trip. In this guide, we'll help you with essential preparations, from choosing the right motorhome and packing efficiently to ensuring your safety on the road. By following our tips and recommendations, you'll be well-prepared for a smooth and enjoyable journey.

What to Expect in this Guide

This guide is organised to provide you with all the information you need for a two-day trip from Christchurch on the East Coast of the South Island over to the West Coast. We'll take you through the highlights of your route, including must-see destinations, outdoor activities, and practical tips to make your trip worry-free. By the end of this guide, you'll have a clear picture of what to expect during your Christchurch to West Coast motorhome getaway.

Getting Started

Before you hit the open road on your Christchurch to West Coast motorhome adventure, it's crucial to start with a solid plan and preparation. Your two-day journey is all about making the most of a short but unforgettable experience. To get started, here are some important considerations. 

First and foremost, plan your itinerary carefully. With limited time, decide on the key attractions you'd like to visit and allocate time accordingly. Ensure you have a clear idea of the driving distances and the time it will take to reach each destination. If you're traveling with family or friends, consider their preferences and interests. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the key stops and activities. 

If you don't own a motorhome, you'll need to rent one. Research and choose a reliable Christchurch motorhome rental company. Make reservations in advance to secure the type of motorhome that best suits your needs. Before hitting the road, conduct a thorough inspection of your motorhome. Check the tires, brakes, lights, and all essential systems. Ensure the vehicle is in top condition for the journey ahead.

New Zealand's weather can be unpredictable, so check the weather forecast for both Christchurch and the West Coast to prepare for varying conditions during your trip.

Efficient packing can make your two-day motorhome adventure much more comfortable. Consider packing layers for changing weather conditions, including warm clothing for cooler nights and lighter options for daytime exploration. Stock up on non-perishable food items, snacks, and beverages. Don't forget basic cooking utensils and supplies for meal preparation. It's also a good idea to have a first-aid kit on hand.

While most motorhomes come with bedding, it's wise to bring your own for added comfort. Don't forget towels, toiletries, and personal items. For entertainment during downtime, whether in the motorhome or at your campsite, consider bringing books, games, or electronic devices. Reliable navigation tools, such as a GPS device, a smartphone app, or physical maps, are essential, as you may not always have consistent mobile signal coverage in remote areas.

If you plan to stay at specific campsites, make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons when popular sites can fill up quickly. Safety should be a top priority during your motorhome journey. Prepare an emergency kit that includes items like a flashlight, batteries, a fire extinguisher, a tool kit, and a basic set of spare parts for your motorhome. Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and have a backup power source, such as a portable charger. Let someone know your itinerary and check-in with them at designated points along your journey. 

Be aware of health considerations, such as insect repellent and sunscreen for outdoor activities, and follow any health and safety guidelines provided by local authorities. Finally, it's highly recommended to purchase travel insurance that covers your motorhome rental and any potential emergencies, such as medical assistance or trip interruptions. By taking these essential steps and precautions, you'll be well-prepared to embark on your two-day motorhome adventure from Christchurch to the West Coast.

Detailed 2 day itinerary from Christchurch to the West Coast

Your two-day motorhome adventure from Christchurch to the West Coast is packed with incredible experiences and picturesque destinations. In this section, we'll break down your itinerary, providing you with a detailed plan for each day of your journey.

Day 1: Christchurch to Arthur's Pass

Morning: You'll start your adventure in Christchurch, so make the most of your time in the "Garden City." Begin with a visit to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, where you can explore lush greenery, charming walking paths, and the serene Avon River. Consider taking a punt ride for a unique view of the gardens.

Mid-morning: Head west towards the Selwyn District, which offers lovely countryside views. If you have time, stop in a local village like Darfield or Sheffield to grab a snack or enjoy a cup of coffee.

Lunch: As you continue your journey, consider having lunch in one of the small towns you pass through, such as Springfield or Cass. These quaint stops offer a taste of rural New Zealand.  After passing through the town take the opportunity to stop at Castle Hill where a short walk affords some great views of the rugged landscape ahead.

Afternoon: Your main destination for the day is Arthur's Pass National Park. The drive to Arthur's Pass is an adventure in itself, winding through stunning alpine landscapes. Once you arrive, explore the park's visitor centre to gather information on hiking trails and current weather conditions. If you're up for it, embark on a short hike to stretch your legs and immerse yourself in the park's natural beauty.

Evening: Spend the night at one of the campsites near Arthur's Pass or opt for a cozy cabin at a local lodge. As you settle in for the evening, savour the tranquillity of the mountains and enjoy a starry night sky.

Stop at Castle Hill for a short walk

Day 2: Exploring Greymouth and Beyond

Morning: On the second day of your adventure, rise early to catch the stunning sunrise over the Southern Alps. If you're a photography enthusiast, this is a prime opportunity for capturing the beauty of Arthur's Pass.

Breakfast: Enjoy a hearty breakfast, whether you cook up a morning meal in your motorhome or dine at a local café in Arthur's Pass Village.

Mid-morning: Depart from Arthur's Pass and continue your journey westward. As you approach Greymouth, consider visiting the Hokitika Gorge and taking a short walk. The turquoise waters and the swing bridge are a picturesque sight worth experiencing.

Lunch: In Greymouth, you'll find a variety of dining options, from cafes to restaurants. Satisfy your hunger with local delicacies or a favourite comfort meal.

Afternoon: Explore Greymouth's attractions, including the Shantytown Heritage Park, which offers a glimpse into the region's gold rush history. Take a leisurely walk along the coastal promenade and enjoy the rugged beauty of the Tasman Sea.

Evening: As the day draws to a close, don't miss the opportunity to witness a spectacular sunset over the sea. The West Coast is renowned for its dramatic sunsets, and you can experience one from the beach or a scenic lookout point.

This detailed itinerary ensures you make the most of your two-day motorhome journey. From the natural wonders of Arthur's Pass National Park to the coastal charm of Greymouth, each day is packed with memorable experiences. In the next section, we'll discuss camping and accommodation options to help you plan your overnight stays along the route.

Camping and Accommodation

Choosing the right places to rest during your motorhome journey is essential for a comfortable and memorable trip. In this section, we'll explore your options for camping and accommodation along the Christchurch to West Coast route.

Overnight Motorhome Parking Options for Your Two-Day Adventure

Of course it’s worth giving thought to your starting off point, you want to make sure you have a good nights rest prior to setting off on your journey.  There are a number of options when it comes to overnight motorhome parking in Christchurch including the Christchurch Motorhome Site – a private friendly parking location close to the city.

Arthur's Pass Camping: When you get to Arthurs Pass there are limited campsites in and around Arthur's Pass village that cater to motorhome travellers. Consider staying at the Department of Convservation Klondyke Corner Campsite for convenient access to the park's trails and amenities.

Greymouth Accommodation: As the largest town on the West Coast, Greymouth provides a range of accommodation options. You can find holiday parks with motorhome facilities, hotels, motels, and even cozy bed-and-breakfasts. The Greymouth Seaside TOP 10 Holiday Park is our pick.

Hokitika Options: If you plan to extend your journey slightly further, consider accommodations in Hokitika, your ultimate West Coast destination. Campsites like the Hokitika Holiday Park offer amenities suitable for motorhomes. For a more luxurious experience, Hokitika boasts boutique lodges and oceanfront cottages.

Freedom Camping: New Zealand offers freedom camping options, where you can park your motorhome in designated areas for free. However, it's important to check local regulations and ensure you have self-contained motorhome facilities if you opt for freedom camping.

Advance Reservations: During the peak travel season, it's advisable to make reservations for campsites or accommodations in advance, especially at popular locations. This ensures you have a place to stay and minimizes the stress of finding last-minute options.

Campervan and Motorhome Facilities

When selecting your campsites or holiday parks, consider the facilities they offer to make your stay comfortable:

Powered Sites: If your motorhome requires electricity for appliances and heating, choose powered sites at holiday parks. These sites provide access to electrical hookups.

Amenities Blocks: Most holiday parks offer amenities blocks with showers, toilets, and kitchen facilities. This is especially convenient for motorhome travellers.

Dump Stations: Look for campsites with dump stations where you can safely dispose of wastewater and sewage.

Wi-Fi and Connectivity: Check if the campsite provides Wi-Fi or has good mobile network coverage, as this can be essential for staying connected during your journey.

Laundry Facilities: If you need to do laundry during your trip, select campsites with laundry facilities.

By choosing your overnight options carefully, you can ensure a pleasant and restful experience on your two-day motorhome journey. Whether you prefer the tranquillity of nature or the convenience of holiday parks, the West Coast offers a range of options to suit your preferences. In the next section, we'll delve into the local cuisine and dining experiences you can savour along the route.

Local Cuisine and Dining

Exploring the local cuisine along your Christchurch to the West Coast motorhome journey is an integral part of the experience. This section will guide you through the Flavors and dining options you can savour during your two-day adventure.

Whitebait: The West Coast is renowned for its whitebait, tiny translucent fish that are often served in a whitebait fritter. Look for it on the menu at local restaurants and cafes. If your journey aligns with the timing of the West Coast Whitebait Festival, consider attending this unique food festival. It's an opportunity to taste a variety of whitebait dishes and enjoy live entertainment.

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Café: As you approach Punakaiki, make sure to visit the Pancake Rocks Café. Sample their renowned pancakes with a view of the dramatic coastal landscapes.

Monteith's Brewery: If you're a fan of craft beer, Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth is a must-visit. Enjoy a tour and tasting to discover the flavours of the West Coast.

Dining Options in Greymouth and Hokitika

Local Seafood: Being coastal towns, Greymouth and Hokitika offer a bounty of seafood options. From fresh fish and chips to seafood chowder, you'll find numerous takeaways and restaurants specialising in ocean delights.

Greymouth Dining: In Greymouth, explore local eateries such as the Little Wanganui Hotel where you can indulge in classic New Zealand cuisine and international flavours.

Hokitika's Culinary Scene: Hokitika offers a vibrant dining scene. Consider trying the Oceanview Restaurant at the Beachfront Hotel for gourmet seafood and breathtaking ocean views.

Local Markets: If you're visiting Hokitika on a weekend, the Hokitika Market is a great place to sample local produce and homemade treats. It's an opportunity to taste and purchase West Coast delicacies.

Cafés and Bakeries: Both Greymouth and Hokitika are dotted with charming cafés and bakeries where you can grab a coffee and a fresh pastry or enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

Cooking in Your Motorhome: While dining out is a delightful part of your journey, don't forget to enjoy a meal or two in the comfort of your motorhome. You can create your own dishes with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and savour the experience of cooking on the road.

Outdoor Activities and Adventures

The Christchurch to West Coast motorhome route is brimming with outdoor adventures and activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and thrill of New Zealand's South Island. In this section, we'll explore the wide range of experiences you can enjoy during your two-day journey.

Short Hikes and Nature Exploration

Sights and Scenic Views

Unique Adventures

With such a diverse range of outdoor activities and adventures, your two-day motorhome journey will be filled with excitement and discovery. From scenic hikes to unique natural wonders, the West Coast has something for every type of traveller.

Wrapping Up Your Christchurch to West Coast Campervan Getaway

As your Christchurch to West Coast motorhome adventure comes to a close, it's time to reflect on the remarkable experiences you've had and look forward to future travel ideas. Your two-day motorhome journey has taken you from the vibrant city of Christchurch to the untamed beauty of the West Coast. You've marvelled at lush landscapes, explored walking tracks, and savoured local cuisine. The memories you've created are a testament to the natural wonders and cultural riches of this region.

Remember the sunsets over the Tasman Sea, the dramatic Pancake Rocks, and the captivating turquoise waters of Hokitika Gorge. Reflect on the flavours of whitebait and seafood, the unique experiences of Arthur's Pass, and the thrill of adventure activities. The West Coast has left an indelible mark on your journey.

Though your Christchurch to West Coast motorhome adventure is over, there's a world of travel waiting for you. Consider your next campervan adventure taking in more stunning destinations in New Zealand. Perhaps a visit to the South Island's Fiordland, or a North Island tour of the Bay of Islands and Coromandel Peninsula could be your next adventure.

Alternatively, you might choose to extend your stay on the West Coast and discover the treasures of Greymouth and Hokitika more thoroughly. The beauty of travel is that there's always something new to explore, and New Zealand offers a rich tapestry of landscapes and experiences to discover.

As you conclude your motorhome journey, take a moment to appreciate the memories you've created, the people you've met, and the landscapes you've witnessed. Travel is not just about the destinations but the journey itself, and your Christchurch to West Coast adventure has been a testament to the beauty and wonder of New Zealand.

With these parting thoughts, we bid you farewell on your travels and hope this guide has enhanced your Christchurch to West Coast motorhome getaway. Safe travels and may your future adventures be as remarkable as the one you've just completed.