Christchurch to Queenstown is a popular route, and Air New Zealand flies this route approximately 4 times a day, Mon-Sun. In the summer months, they offer 5 flights some days of the week, though this varies. The flight is approximately 1 hour long, so it’s a pretty short hop over which is convenient if you’re short on time. Flight prices start from $69.
Bus it in
If you want to get the coach there, you can get a direct bus from several companies. Intercity do a daily direct service from as low as $39, which takes around 8 hours. Naked Bus offer similar, with fares around $40 and a journey time of 9 hours. Both companies have promotional fares for booking ahead of time. I did this journey myself and we got stuck on a very old vehicle with zero suspension and I was so thankful for my sea-sickness tablets. So if you get motion sickness – might be worth taking a few just in case.
If you wish to make it a tour, Scenic Pacific Travel offers a coach service along the same route for $104 which includes refreshment stops at Omarama and Geraldine, a lunch stop at Lake Tekapo (worth the extra time – as it’s STUNNING!) and commentary from an experienced tour driver.
Make it a road trip
If you’ve got the time, the most satisfying way to do this route is by car, so you’re in control of which route to take and where to stop. There’s several routes available with some stunning scenery to take in along the way. I’ve only done this route from Queenstown to Christchurch (so the opposite way) but it should be pretty easy to reverse the routes below… (I hope anyway!)
The coastal route: This route takes a bit longer (643km, 7.5 hours) but has the beautiful coastal scenery. Head south from Queenstown to Dunedin via Alexandra, Roxburgh and Lawrence, taking in the Karawu Gorge along the way. From Dunedin you head north, following the coast up to Christchurch. There is plenty to see and there’s a few pleasant towns along the way, such as Oamaru and Timaru. Take a picnic for lunch!
The inland route: This is the mountainous route; it’s 483km with 6 hours of driving. Just out of Queenstown, Cromwell has a few vineyards, if wine is your thing. It might not be directly on the way, but one of the main reasons to go inland is to visit Mount Cook, and if you’re looking to make an overnight stop, this is a very good place to do it. Back on the road, you’ll pass Lake Tekapo, then the town of Geraldine which has a very crafty, country vibe.
Hiring a car is easy. The likes of Avis and Budget operate out of both the city and the airport and have offices at Queenstown (in the town and the airport), making a one-way hire simple.
So it all boils down to how long you want to take, how much you want to take in and whether you want to sit back and enjoy the view, or take the wheel yourself. Bon Voyage!