Earthquake Disruptions

Due to extensive road damage resulting from the earthquake on 14 November 2016, a portion of State Highway 1 is currently closed between Picton and Christchurch, and travellers need to take alternative routes.

Avis recommend that customers travelling from the North Island consider making alternative travel arrangements such as flying from Wellington to Christchurch to ensure vehicle availability and avoid delays.

Please contact us on 0800 655 111 for more information on any part of your current booking or future bookings.

View the map of road closures and alternative routes published by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).


Travel Options

When travelling from Picton at the top of the South Island to either Christchurch or Queenstown, there are four routes to consider. Roads will be busy so patience is required with travel congestion expected especially in areas around townships.

Picton-Blenheim-Christchurch: allow approximately 7.5 hours travel time.

  • Picton-Blenheim (SH1), Blenheim-St Arnaud (SH63), St Arnaud-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Lewis Pass- Hanmer Springs (SH65 and SH7 and SH7a), Hanmer Springs-Christchurch (SH7 and SH1).
  • This is the quickest route currently available between Picton and Christchurch, and offers the chance for a nights stopover in either Murchison or the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs.

Picton-Nelson-Christchurch: allow approximately 9 hours travel time.

  • Picton-Nelson (SH6), Nelson-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Lewis Pass- Hanmer Springs (SH65 and SH7 and SH7a), Hanmer Springs-Christchurch (SH7 and SH1).
  • This is route gives you the opportunity to spend a night or two exploring Nelson and nearby Abel Tasman National Park, whilst avoiding the busier route from Picton to Murchison via Blenheim.

Picton-Nelson-Greymouth-Franz Josef-Christchurch: allow approximately 14 hours travel time.

  • Picton-Nelson (SH1 and SH6), Nelson-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Westport (SH6), Westport-Greymouth (SH6), Greymouth-Franz Josef (SH6), Franz Josef-Christchurch (SH6 north and SH73).
  • Murchison’s just a hop skip and a jump away from the South Island’s west coast, so don’t miss the opportunity to experience this rugged coastline, overnighting in the spectacular tourist destinations of Punakaiki and Franz Josef, before enjoying the remarkably beautiful journey through Arthurs Pass back to Christchurch.

Picton-Greymouth-Wanaka-Cromwell-Queenstown: allow approximately 14 hours travel time.

  • Picton-Nelson (SH1 and SH6), Nelson-Murchison (SH6), Murchison-Westport (SH6), Westport-Greymouth (SH6), Greymouth-Franz Josef (SH6), Franz Josef-Wanaka (SH6), Wanaka-Cromwell (SH6), Cromwell-Queenstown (SH6).
  • If your intention was to do a full loop of the South Island, consider journeying down the entire West Coast on state highway 6 from Nelson to Haast, crossing back over the Southern Alps via Haast Pass, towards Wanaka and Queenstown. We do not recommend undertaking this leg of the journey in a single day due to difficult driving conditions and three to four days is highly recommended in order to fully enjoy the West Coasts pristine scenery and as well as it’s world renowned attractions including the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. From Queenstown you can continue south on the Southern Scenic Route, taking in Milford Sound and the Catlin’s, before heading north again to Christchurch via Dunedin.

Useful Links