Dunedin - Oamaru: 1h:30m
Oamaru - Timaru: 1h
Timaru - Christchurch: 2h
Dunedin to Christchurch: 6h:20m (including stopping at Moeraki and Oamaru)
Direct would be 4h:30m to 5h:10m
Weather: Changeable, some light rain (Dunedin 23°C, Oamaru 21°C, Christchurch 24°C)
The trip up to Christchurch is often a rushed non-stop one but there are some well known and not so well known gems along the way.
The cliffside road past Seacliff leading to Puketeraki/Karitane Beach is a pleasant detour from SH1. There's also Waikouaiti Beach.
A little further on, Shag Point is well worth a look for nature lovers who haven't had their fill of seals, sea lions, penguins (some of the rarer yellow-eyed variety live here) and other sea birds.
Watch out for a specially nice beach near where you rejoin SH1 from Shag Point.
Continuing on, we pass some interesting limestone cliffs on our left. We're getting toward famous (in NZ) Oamaru stone country.
Soon we reach the Moeraki area, famous for its big, round Moeraki Boulders. These are mainly found on the beach below SH1 just north of the turnoff to Moeraki. There is a cafe and tourist shop on the beach here and access to the boulders is free.
Don't forget to visit Moeraki itself, a delightful little fishing village on the point. There is a highly regarded restaurant, Fleur's Place, on the breakwater overlooking the harbour.
The Moeraki Peninsula is also a great wildlife area. You may glimpse seals in the main harbour itself but further round the coast at either Kaika or down Lighthouse Road at Katiki Point you have an excellent chance of spotting penguins and seals in their natural environment.
Once you drag yourself awayfrom Moeraki you'll pass through little Hampden, mentioned because it has an award winning fish and chip shop. I strongly recommend the Blue Cod and Chips eaten on the local beach (out of the paper wrapping with a little tomato sauce, of course).
Now we reach two other secret favourite places of mine. The Olive Grove Holiday Park at Waianakarua and the Kakanui Coast. The Olive Grove is just a nice place to relax - with their own herb garden and herbal potions, creek out the back to swim or fish, walking tracks, kids playgrounds, miniature cattle and animals, their own 'Moeraki boulders'... - one of those special places. [no inducement sought or offered]
The Kakanui coastal road starts near Waianakarua and offers some outstanding scenery, fishing spots and swimming beaches. (It helps if the weather happens to be absolutely perfect as well, of course.)
Following the coastal road (maybe a little tricky to navigate at times) we eventually arrive in Oamaru. There is a commanding view of the town, harbour and coastline from the lookout above the town. Descending the hill we see the precinct of restored historic buildings that aren't yet receiving the publicity they deserve.
There are various art and craft businesses down here and I particularly like to visit the Oamaru stonemason Ian Andersen at work. Don't know how he gets any work done because he does like a good yarn ...hey, this is the South Island.
PS: When leaving Dunedin, take care you are on the right road. There is a short motorway system, make sure you're on it (SH1) and not half way to Mosgiel over some (not unattractive) back road like me. Must be near the end of this journey for me.
From Oamaru it was on to Christchurch and Picton and home. Now to sort through all those photos...