General Travel Information Picton – Christchurch

SH1 is closed to through traffic between Kaikoura to north of Ward. The road is open between Picton and Ward but is down to one lane in multiple places, please take extra care.

People travelling between Picton and Christchurch need to use the alternative inland highway route – State Highway 6 and 63 to Murchison, and then along State Highway 65 to Springs Junction and through Lewis Pass (State Highway 7) to State Highway 1 at Waipara and vice versa.

View the map. [PDF, 2.5 MB] Please click to download.

The roads with restrictions in yellow: the inland 70 route (KEA) from Waiau to Kaikoura is restricted to essential services, residents and for army convoys. From SH1 Ward to SH1 Clarence for essential services and residents only.

The trip from Picton to Christchurch or vice versa will take about 7-8 hours. Everyone is asked to take extra care when travelling on this route and allow plenty of time for their trip.

There are petrol, café and toilet facilities at St Arnaud, Murchison, Springs Junction and Culverden.  For more information: Call 0800 44 44 49 – 0800 4 highways.

Christchurch – Kaikoura

Access will be two-way and only during daylight hours, 6am to 8pm. The last vehicles will be admitted to travel along SH1 south from Peketa at 7.30pm. Vehicles travelling north from Christchurch are advised to leave the city by 5.30pm to ensure they get through to Kaikoura before the road closes at Oaro at 7.15pm.

Travel Options

For coaches, camper van, rental cars and private vehicles travelling from the Top of the South (Picton) to Christchurch, there are three routes to consider. Roads will be busy so patience is required with travel congestion expected in areas around townships.

  • Picton-Blenheim (SH63) St Arnaud-Murchison (SH6)-Lewis Pass (SH65 and SH7)-Hanmer Springs (SH7a)-Christchurch (SH7 and SH1)

Travel time, allow minimum 7 ½ hours. Itineraries could be changed to include an overnight in Blenheim, St Arnaud, Murchison or Hanmer Springs. Alternatively drive direct from Murchison to Christchurch.


  • Picton-Nelson (SH6)-St Arnaud-Murchison (SH6)-Lewis Pass (SH65 and SH7adn 7a-Hanmer Springs-Christchurch (SH7 and SH1)

Travel time, allow minimum 8 ½ hours. Itineraries could be changed to include an overnight in Blenheim, Nelson or Hanmer Springs. Alternatively drive direct from Nelson to Christchurch.


  • Picton-St Arnaud (SH6 and SH63) or Nelson-Murchison-Greymouth-Hokitika-Franz Josef Glacier (SH6) or back to Christchurch (SH73)

Travel time, allow minimum of 10 hours. Itineraries could include overnight in Nelson, Greymouth and Franz Josef. Onward travel to Wanaka and Queenstown or Christchurch

Dusky Lodge & Backpackers is situated on Beach road, Kaikoura. We are the largest hostel in Kaikoura catering for groups and budget travellers. We offer a clean homely environment with bunk rooms, doubles, twins, ensuite rooms and heating in all rooms. All bed linen and pillows are provided. There are 3 large kitchen’s fully equipped as well as BBQ’s on the decks free to use.  Free unlimited wifi available throughout the hostel to enjoy and FREE breakfast during the winter months.

We have a large heated salt water pool and spa to enjoy while staying with us. Guest computers are available and the wifi can be used throughout the building.

Our facilities are available for non-guests ie shower, kitchens or pool and spa only $5 per person, we are open between 7.00am – 9.00pm, sign in at reception. (winter months 7.00am – 7.00pm)

The hostel is only 5 minute walk to the town centre, and across the road from Whale Watchers. The best bakery in town is situated right beside us and grocery stores only minutes away.

The intercity bus can drop you off outside the hostel, ask the driver when you start your journey. We have plenty of parking space and it’s free to use. Luggage storage short term is available, if needed ask at reception.

Dusky Lodge & Backpackers is a great place to relax, unwind and take in the great views and spectacular sunsets from our extensive decks. Our friendly team can help book tours or give you advice on what to do while you are with us. We hope to see you soon.

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Kaikoura is a small seaside community 183km north of Christchurch. As one of the rare places where giant whales, dusky and Hector’s dolphins, NZ fur seals, albatross, penguins and various pelagic birds can all be viewed year-round, the area is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts. However there’s more to Kaikoura than its marine population. Its great surf, beautiful Wilderness Walkway, nearby ski fields, excellent local seafood (especially crayfish) and wineries all help to attract the regions many visitors.

Although the peninsula is backed by the dazzlingly snow-capped 2600m Seaward Kaikouras, the town’s climate is tempered by the sea. Situated in New Zealand’s “sun belt”, the region averages over 2000 hours of sunshine annually.

Maori legend describes how the Kaikoura peninsula, Taumanu o te Waka o Maui, served as the seat of the demigod Maui while he fished up the north island from the depths of the sea, and the area was already inhabited before European settlement.  Later, Kaikoura was an important whaling station until 1922, when the end of whale-hunting made the town dependent on its agriculture and fishing resources. Since the late 1980s marine life has once again taken economic precedence in the form of eco-tourism activities which have firmly established Kaikoura on the tourist map.