Road Trip to Tekapo
Whether you are arriving from Christchurch, Queenstown or Dunedin, we have the best tips for your South Island Roadie – and food tips, of course, because who doesn’t love to eat!
Take the coastal drive from Port Chalmers to Waitati, then turn in again at Evansdale and head to Karitane, then you pop back out on the main road – it’s a sensational drive.
Moeraki Village has the very casual The Fishwife – they also offer terrific Blue Cod Fishing Charters. The famous Moeraki Boulders are about 1 or 2 kilometres past the village.
In Oamaru the Harbour Street shops are a must – particularly Whitestone City. Good places for lunch are the Tees Street Café (our favourite) or Casa Mia or The Galley. For dinner we recommend Cucina. If you are overnighting make sure to watch the little blue penguins surf in from their daily 30-kilometre food foraging adventures.
Time allowing, a visit to Riverstone Kitchen and Riverstone Castle is a must. Then take the Waitaki Valley via Duntroon and Kurow for the most scenic drive to the Mackenzie Country and Tekapo.
Restaurants: (Like everywhere currently booking is essential !)
In Queenstown, if you want to do something REALLY different, try this: It’s a virtual reality experience like no other I have seen. A bit random, but SO much fun!
If you are not going to Wanaka, and you have time, I strongly suggest turning in after Tarras and driving across the Crown Range to Queenstown – it is an epic drive and only adds about half an hour – worth it. (But then you will miss the wineries listed below – it’s the devil’s choice.)
A couple of our favourite wineries enroute:
- Amisfield – great Sauv.
- Brennan Wines (their Tempranillo and Pinot are amazing) at Nevis Bluff.
- Wooing Tree – Blondie at Cromwell.
The Tarras Country Cafe is a great spot for a cuppa – and you MUST eat a cheese roll at a cafe in the South Island. If not at Tarras, then at The Wrinkly Rams cafe in Omarama.
Traveling through the Lindis Pass, take a moment to stop at the top – it’s featured in all the car ads, and you will see why. It’s truly beautiful.
The Wrinkly Rams at Omarama is a great stop for fish and chips – and it’s a hotspot for Ritchie McCaw spotting.
The Clay Cliffs at Omarama are totally worth the short walk in to see. They are beautiful and otherworldly, and it is a really easy walk.
Just after Twizel is the High Country Salmon farm, cafe and shop – you can buy to eat there or buy a wee piece to take away and they will pack it in ice for you. Their gravalax is delicious.
The Hooker Valley Track at Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is one of the best day walks in New Zealand. It is FABULOUS. If you are walkers AND the weather at Mt Cook looks nice, zip in there enroute to Tekapo and walk the Hooker Valley Track. The walk is three hours return but it is quintessential NZ. In case of inclement weather, you can easily drive back there from Ranginui and do the walk on another day.
Take SH77 via the Rakaia Gorge, it’s really pretty and skirts the mountains all the way to Geraldine. At Geraldine visit the famous Barkers to stock up on delicious jams and sauces (all served here at Ranginui, of course). There is also a great cheese and ice cream shop – The Creamery.
If you weren’t hungry at Geraldine, then after the beautiful drive through the gorge you will find The Farm Barn Cafe perched on top of a hill with stunning views of Four Peaks. Their cakes are legendary amongst the locals.
If you are a pie fan – and even if you are not – the Fairlie Bakehouse is a must-stop. Salmon & Bacon, Venison & Cranberry or my favourite, Pork & Apple – there are so many to choose from, and you can sit in the little square to enjoy your pie. There are some great little shops around there, also – The Little Red Fox, Blank Space and Mint Boutique.
The Silverstream Hotel at Kimbell has new owners who are doing a fabulous job renovating the building while keeping the character – so if you’re not already bursting at the seams, their burgers are fantastic.
Burkes Pass has a very eclectic shop worth a wander round, full of treasures right up to a mobile Shepherds Hut. The pretty little country church is also worth a look.
Happy planning, and we look forward to seeing you in Tekapo!