Walking and biking your way through the Alpine Pacific
The Alpine Pacific Touring Route is a scenic drive on the South Island of New Zealand. Stretching across the east coast it is a blend of stunning natural wonders, iconic Kiwi experiences, and a diverse landscape that changes as you move from one region to another. The route runs from Kaikōura through Hurunui and down to Christchurch. It encompasses 450 km of mind-blowing scenery winding past wineries, mountainous landscapes, wild surf, and incredible wildlife. The road trip along the Alpine Pacific is bound to be an unforgettable experience.
The Alpine Pacific Touring Route is a great journey to undertake by an electric vehicle as it provides a clean and environmentally friendly way to explore this beautiful part of the country. With plenty of Chargenet Stations to fuel up along the way (and in super convenient locations) you’ll have zero range anxiety on your trip.
This route is full of incredible walking and biking trails for people of all levels and is such an awesome low-impact way to explore these regions. From walking along the coast scattered with fur seals to biking through Waipara’s vineyards or taking on the MTB trails at Halswell Quarry, there is an activity to suit everyone's needs. We’re going to highlight just some of the amazing walks and bike rides along this touring route, to help you with the planning of your trip.
Biking to the Black Estate Winery along the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail
Polestar parked up with the Kaikōura Ranges in the back
Kaikōura is most well known for its incredible ocean/mountain scenery and amazing wildlife. One of the ways to see plenty of amazing views is via the Kaikōura Cycle Trail - a 48 km loop that explores the varied landscapes this small town has to offer. You can either complete the full trail in one go or pick smaller sections of the loop to ride. There are a few intermediate sections of the track but most of it is ride-able for most levels of experience.
Riding a section of the Kaikoura Cycle Trail
Exploring Kaikōura on foot allows you to really appreciate the town's natural beauty. The peninsula and nearby mountains offer awesome walking opportunities with a wide variety of trails. One of the most popular (and for good reason) is the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway. A beautiful track showcasing the best of the coast and a bulk load of fur seals sunbathing on the rocks. You may even get lucky enough to see a whale from up the top during migration season (winter). Either start the walk at the Point Kean car park or South Bay and follow the track along the top of the peninsula. A great adventure is combining this walk with Tom’s Track for a decent half-day loop.
A few other great easy walk options to consider would be the Dempseys Track to Ward Street Walkway - this walk takes you up to the Kaikōura Lookout from town and offers the perfect view over the bay and township. You’ll then walk down the Ward Street Walkway towards the Seafood BBQ. Ohau Point - walk along the boardwalk while overlooking the coast and all the seals below. The Hinau Track - a nice peaceful loop stroll through the bush (chances are you’ll have a fantail join you for the journey). If you’re wanting to really stretch the legs and you’re up for a slog, hike up to the Mt Fyffe Hut or all the way to the summit of Mt Fyffe. It’s a tough 6-8 hour return adventure along a dirt 4WD track but the views from the top well and truly make it worth it.
Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway
We recommend combining a sunrise bike ride along the Esplanade to the Peninsula and then walking up to the Point Kean Lookout - this makes for a pretty perfect morning! Finish off with a cuppa and a bite to eat and one of the many cafes in town while you charge up the EV.
Driving down the Kaikōura coastline is an experience in itself. Be sure to keep an eye out for pods of dolphins playing close to shore. As you head south from Kaikōura, you’ll come across a place called Domett - only 5 minutes from here is the Point Gibson Lighthouse. Perched high on the cliffside, the views from the lighthouse out over the coastline are incredible and very untouched. It’s a super easy stroll across a paddock, so it’d be a great spot to visit with a coffee or a picnic.
Less than two hours south of Kaikōura and you’ll enter the Waipara wine region - home to many vineyards and wineries offering incredible food and wine tastings. You could pop into a couple on your way or jump on a bike and explore the Waipara Valley Vineyard trail. The trail weaves through the producing vineyards, accessing the cellar doors that look out on the expansive views.
Enjoying the beautiful wine and views at the Black Estate Winery
There are a few walks in the Hurunui region that you won’t want to miss but first, be sure to pop into the adorable little alpine town of Hanmer Springs. Hanmer Springs is most well-known for the iconic thermal pools - a soak in these pools is a New Zealand must-do and just what the doctor ordered after a day of adventuring.
For those looking for a challenging stroll, the Mt Isobel Track in Hanmer Springs is a must-do. It is one of the most popular hikes in the Hurunui region and takes about 4-6 hours return. The track begins steeply, and the climb is tough, but the stunning panoramic views of the Hanmer Basin make it worth the effort. The Balmoral Fire Lookout is another popular spot in the Hurunui region. It's a short 20-minute walk to reach the lookout that offers 360-degree views of the surroundings. You’ll look out over the Hurunui River, farmland, and the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. This is such a magic spot for a sunset.
Views from up Balmoral Fire Lookout
The 12 km Tiromoana Bush Loop Walk is a nature lover’s paradise. You’ll walk through the bush, past a wetland area with ponds to an isolated beach and get to experience all the incredible coastal views in between. We’d put this walk up there with some of the best walks to complete in all of New Zealand - it’s a real goodie!
Isolated beach along the Tiromoana Bush Track
The final destination of the route is Christchurch. This city is a cool urban hub with so many spaces to play and things to discover, including stunning botanical gardens, a vibrant cultural scene, and a range of amazing dining experiences. Christchurch is also such a great place to spend some time exploring the city's many walking and biking trails.
A big draw card to Christchurch is the incredible Port Hills. You could spend weeks in the hills exploring all the different hiking and biking trails. This is also where you’ll find the Christchurch Adventure Park - an awesome bike park offering over 50 different mountain bike trails of various levels of difficulty.
Taking in the views at Godley Heads
A few really great walks to do in the Port Hills would be the Crater Rim Walkway, Harry Ell Track and the Captain Thomas Track. The Crater Rim Walkway is a 14km track that follows the edge of the ancient volcano that formed the Banks Peninsula. The track takes you through many different landmarks and viewpoints along the way and offers stunning views over the Christchurch City, Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.
For a couple of shorter options the Harry Ell Track is a 45 minute stroll one way, taking you from the Sign of the Takahe up to the Sign of the Kiwi. You’ll walk through a mixture of native and exotic woodland before emerging on Summit Road - a great place to take in the awesome views. The Captain Thomas Track is located in another spot within the Port Hills, offering slightly different but just as epic views. A 2-3 hour return walk from Sumner up to Evans Pass and back down again. You’ll walk through lush bush, open fields and a section of switchbacks before making it up to Evans Pass offering a beautiful view over Lyttelton Harbour.
Walking the Captain Thomas Track
The Halswell Quarry offers an incredible bike riding experience in one of Christchurch’s most scenic locations. There are a variety of tracks available to cater to most levels of experience and skill. Riders can enjoy winding tracks through native bushland, with small jumps and some fun challenges along the way. If you’re wanting something a little more family friendly, Bottle Lake Forest is the perfect place for a fun day out. As you pedal through the winding trails, you'll be surrounded by dense greenery and the sounds of birds chirping. The forest floor is covered in soft dirt and fallen leaves, providing a natural cushion as you navigate the twists and turns. It’s a great place for beginners and it’s a spot the kids will love!
Biking alongside the Avon River and through Hagley Park also makes for a nice relaxing ride.
If you’re travelling in an EV this is a great activity to do while the car is charging, as the stations are right next to where you can start your journey. You’ll pedal down winding paths next to the river, pass by a diverse range of exotic plants and scented flowers that line the pathways in the Botanical Gardens and visit iconic landmarks that bring people to the city. These locations provide the perfect balance of nature, history, and culture intermixes, making the ride unforgettable.
Riding alongside the Avon River
The Alpine Pacific Touring Route is such an awesome way to explore the diverse landscapes of the south through all the amazing walks and bike trails. So pack your bags or your adventure rig and off you go! The Alpine Pacific is waiting for you.
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