Seals the deal: Driving from Nelson to Christchurch

Getting from Nelson to Christchurch is cause for plenty of discussion on online forums – do we drive through the mountain ranges or along the coastline? My partner and I opted for the coastline drive as it seemed the most straightforward way to go, plus we couldn’t go past the opportunity for some fresh ocean breeze.

This road trip offered some great scenery, was easy to navigate and comfortably done within a day. We left Nelson just before 9am, stopped in Blenheim for coffee at 10.30am, had lunch and did a coastal walk in Kaikoura and then arrived in Christchurch by 5pm. It was a cruisy journey and we didn’t feel rushed at any point. It could be done in around 5 hours if you really want, but then you’d miss all the joy that Kaikoura brings!

Kaikoura is a popular sport for whale watching, though I’d have no clue if we were there in the right season. Regardless, we enjoyed this coastal haven and the opportunity for a short walk. We started our walk at the Point Kean Viewpoint (there is a car park and toilets here) and headed along the clifftops. The views were stunning and the ocean a bright blue. It was a warm afternoon and we welcomed the chance for some fresh air and sunshine.

After about half an hour of walking along the clifftops, we decided to head down a long flight of stairs and closer to the water. None the wiser as to what was ahead of us, we were pleasantly surprised by a colony of seals! Laying in the sun seemed to be the activity for the day as they sprawled across the rocks and some even in the nearby grass.

After the obligatory dose of seal-watching, we made our way back to the car, past people who were evidently there just to see the seals. There was something nice about being surprised after some aimless walking, and I must give it to the seals for being so well disguised into the surroundings.

Onto Christchurch we went, happy we chose the coastline drive. I would definitely recommend going this way if you have the time and especially if it’s sunny weather. If you’re there in the right season, you might stumble upon a whale without even looking.

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