The Alpine Pacific Triangle is a rather exotic sounding part of New Zealand - but do you know exactly where it is? Picture a rough (very rough) triangle linking the beautiful alpine location of Hanmer Springs (yes, right here where we are) with the lovely Pacific Coast location of Kaikoura and the delicious inland winery region of Waipara, just north of Christchurch.
And this is the aptly named Alpine Pacific Triangle. The route itself - if you go directly from point to point, is approximately 370km long and if you take a leisurely approach, it's a great way to spend 2-3 days exploring a fascinating part of the South Island of New Zealand.
So what is there to enjoy along the Alpine Pacific route?
1. Hanmer Springs
Of course we have to start with Hanmer Springs - one of only two alpine resorts in the South Island alongside Queenstown. Located about two hours drive north of Christchurch, just before the beginning of the Lewis Pass. Hanmer Springs is nestled in a picturesque river valley and surrounded by mountains. The air is crisp and clear through the winter months and the region is warm and sunny in summer. Browse through our blog posts to find out more about Hanmer and the wide range of things to see and do in the area - from skiing to white water rafting, bungy jumping, hunting and fishing, mountainbiking, golf and of course relaxing in the thermal pools or our own hottubs.
Impacted by a large earthquake in 2016 that made it difficult to access this coastal town from the South and impossible to access it from the North, Kaikoura has now fully regained it's status as a key part of the Alpine Pacific Triangle. You can now access State Highway 1 both north and south of Kaikoura 24 hours a day, but be aware that access may be one way in some parts. When you are planning a trip in the winter months, check the NZTA website for up to date information.
Home to the country's most successful whale watching enterprise, Kaikoura combines the beauty of snow capped mountains with the blue Pacific Ocean - and the abundance of wildlife and marine life that thrives there as a result of the 1200m deep Kaikoura Canyon. The Canyon is part of the Kermadec Trench system which extends far into the Pacific Ocean.
Whales migrate to this part of New Zealand every year, so the town that was once primarily a fishing village, now largely revolves around the various whale watching businesses and related tourist enterprises.
You will find plenty of places to stay, eat and of course explore the wonderful marine environment.
3. Waipara Valley
Located in a part of the South Island often known for it's hot and dry summers, Waipara's limestone rich soils and dry climate was identified as being highly suitable for grape growing. The region holds an annual wine and food festival at the Waipara Vicarage and is home now to more than 75 wineries, most of them specialising in growing pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling grapes.
Check out our blog posts on the region's restaurants and wineries for more information about many of them. Perhaps the best known for their award winning vintages are Pegasus Bay winery, which also produces the Main Divide label, and Black Estate.
In reality, vineyards can be found scattered along the roads further north of Waipara as well, as you wind your way towards the Hanmer Springs turnoff. Hot summers and cold winters make the perfect combination to create international quality wines.
The part of the region between Waipara and Hanmer is known as the Hurunui and along with some great scenery that is punctuated by spectacular limestone outcrops, this area is also home to olive groves and many other artisan food businesses. So make sure you leave plenty of time en route to stop wherever the mood takes you and enjoy partaking in the local produce.
Why not plan a trip and make the most of this beautiful and interesting part of New Zealand - and of course, book to stay with us while you are in Hanmer and benefit from the local knowledge of our friendly team.