South Island driving times and distances

Get the shortest driving distances and times between cities on the South Island of New Zealand. Choose from a list of 46 South Island cities.

South Island distance calculator

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If you are looking for distances between cities on the North Island, you can use the North Island driving distances page. For information about Kaikoura and driving from Picton to Christchurch, click here.

The following table displays the distances between a few key places on the South Island. All distances are in kilometers.

South Island distances table

To get dynamic driving distances and times and see the route displayed on a map, please go to Google Maps.

There are scenic driving route videos available for a few selected scenic routes on the South Island of New Zealand.

Driving times and road conditions

Please remember that driving times depend on road conditions. Things such as rain, snow, or roadworks may slow you down. There are several websites where you can check driving conditions on highways in New Zealand.

Always allow for enough time for you to reach your destination so that you do not have to rush and consequently cause an accident. Adding one hour to the estimated driving time is almost always a good thing to do.

For the South Island, in particular, you should also expect to sometimes come across herds of cows or sheep on the road as they are being moved to or from grazing areas. Please be patient as farmers move their stock via the road.

Alternative driving route from Picton to Christchurch

As you may have heard, the last big earthquake that hit New Zealand, and Kaikoura in particular, damaged State Highway 1 and there were slips preventing direct access from Picton to Christchurch via Kaikoura.

The Picton to Christchurch route via State Highway 1 was closed for a while but has been reopened as of December 15, 2017, so you now have two options for traveling from Picton to Christchurch and vice versa via Kaikoura.

You can read more about driving between Christchurch and Picton here and here.

The second route that goes from Picton to Christchurch goes via State Highways 1, 63, 6, 65, and 7 from Picton to Christchurch. This route is open 24/7.

The NZTA estimates the driving time via this route to take approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes and is about 478 km (297 mi) in length.

Google estimates the Picton – Blenheim – Murchison – Christchurch route to take approximately 6 hours and a half. I would add half an hour to this time to accommodate for extra traffic on the road.

Note that you will be going through a pass (Lewis Pass) on this route and that traffic might slow down at times due to trucks also using this route. Just be patient and allow for extra travel time. In addition, Lewis Pass may have snow or can be closed in winter.

Distances between popular South Island cities

The amount of kilometers between popular cities/towns on the South Island of New Zealand:

If you are looking for driving ideas, you can check out the Short day trips from Queenstown, Short day trips from Christchurch, and the official New Zealand scenic highways and routes articles.

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