Wanaka is a beautiful place to explore from its picturesque scenery, thanks to Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain ranges, to its luscious greenery filled with some of New Zealand's best wineries so it's little wonder travellers flock to this stunning region. People come from all over New Zealand to adventure through Wanaka and those who live in Christchurch are no exception. Due to its geographic location on the South Island, travelling from Christchurch to Wanaka is fairly easy with three clear options available; flying to Wanaka, driving to Wanaka, and catching public transport to Wanaka.
Flying from Christchurch to Wanaka
The quickest option for travelling from Christchurch to Wanaka is to fly. Flying from Christchurch International Airport (CHC) to Wanaka Airport (WKA) is super easy with Sounds Air operating 12 flights between the two destinations per week. The flight time itself is only 45 minutes to 50 minutes long so you'll be exploring the spectacular scenery of Wanaka before you know it.
The cost of the flights can differ depending on the season you're travelling in and how far in advance you book but you can expect to pay anywhere between NZD$250 - NZD$500. While there aren't any car rental options available at the airport, if you're in need of a car, there are several companies to choose from within Wanaka's city centre.
Driving from Christchurch to Wanaka
Driving from Christchurch to Wanaka is also a really popular option as it allows you enough time to have that classic 'road trip' feel but isn't long enough for you to constantly be thinking 'when is this over'? The total journey by car is just over 5 hours, travelling over 400km and the estimated cost of driving can be upwards of NZD$85. Driving is a great way to see the South Island's natural beauty and also allows you to stop along the way whenever you see something that needs exploration.
The highways in New Zealand are all maintained regularly so you shouldn't come across any large infrastructure issues. The journey between Christchurch and Wanaka should also be fairly smooth sailing as there are large and clearly worded directions on the side of the highway for easy navigation.
Catching public transport from Christchurch to Wanaka
While catching public transport isn't the quickest way to get from Christchurch to Wanaka, it is the cheapest, estimated to cost around NZD$50 to NZD$80. Departing from the heart of Christchurch, InterCity Coachlines offer 4 services a week to Cromwell where you have to hop on a connecting bus that will take you all the way to Wanaka. The total travel time is around 7 and a half hours so be prepared for a full day's journey.
While you can't stop and get out whenever you want to, travelling by coach does give you the opportunity to take in the South Island's natural beauty, as well as learn more about your final destination from your knowledgeable driver.