Since the Kaikoura earthquake last year, many our rental car customers have asked us whether they can I still drive to Kaikoura, and how can they include Kaikoura in their travel plans.
The short answer is that Kaikoura is accessible by road, and in our opinion, is a ‘must do’ on any South Island road trip.
While most of Kaikoura township came through the quake with relatively little damage, the roads and rail links to the town suffered major damage resulting in Kaikoura being isolated for several weeks. Since then, there has been a huge amount of resource, including earthmoving machinery and people working day and night to re-establish road and rail links to the town. Currently there are two road routes in and out of Kaikoura; State Highway 1 south to Christchurch, and the Inland Route 70 to Waiau. State Highway 1 north to Blenheim and Picton is not currently open however some estimates suggest that this route will open again this summer.
So how can Kaikoura be included in a self-drive itinerary?
This depends on which direction you are travelling. For travellers driving a rental car north from Christchurch, we would suggest driving to Kaikoura via State Highway 1 and departing via the Inland Route. This should also allow a visit to Hanmer Springs as you progress north. Rental Car customers driving south from Picton, Blenheim, or Nelson may want to consider taking the opposite route. A visit to Hanmer Springs, then a scenic drive along the Inland Route into Kaikoura, departing south via State Highway 1.
Is it worth taking the extra time to drive to Kaikoura?
Absolutely! Kaikoura is a truly special destination with a spectacular environment. While famous for whale, seal and dolphin encounters, this region offers so much more. From coastal and mountain treks, fishing, diving, or exploring the beaches and reefs. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops to enjoy.
What is the situation with accommodation?
Most accommodation providers are fully operational, and the region offers a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets from campgrounds & holiday parks, to motels, hotels, lodges and B&Bs.
Our advice to anyone planning a rental car trip around New Zealand is to make sure that you include Kaikoura in your plans. Also make sure that you book your accommodation and car hire in advance, as we expect Kaikoura will be a popular travel destination this summer.