Car Hire in Christchurch
This information is correct as of June 2015
While there are public buses going around Christchurch, there are some areas where bus service is not frequent. The best thing you can do is rent a car; you'll be able to travel with independence and flexibility, with little to no limits as to where you can go and what time you leave.
Where to hire a car in Christchurch
Several car hire providers offer a variety of vehicles fitting for different needs, purposes, and budget ranges at Christchurch. Christchurch Carhire is a car rental agency situated in 574 Wairakei Road. There is an Omega Rental Car office located in 252 Lichfield Street, and an About New Zealand Car Rental in 33 Iversen Terrace, Waltham. Wicked Campers on 135 Ferry Rd, Christchurch Central provides trailer rental service. Other car hire agencies serving Christchurch include Options Rentals and USAVE Car & Truck Rentals. There are also car hire customer service desks at the Christchurch Airport for Budget, Avis, and other international car hire companies.
What to expect when hiring a car from Christchurch
Christchurch has a simple grid layout, so navigation should generally be easy. Be vigilant though in the central city as there are one-way streets and bus-and-taxi only intersections. When two lanes are merged into one, vehicles should travel on both lanes until they arrive the merging point. From there, the two lanes should take turns to smoothly ease into the single lane. In addition, stop safely if you can when the traffic lights turn yellow instead of trying to 'make it' to the other side before it turns red. Avoid crossing grid lock by only entering an intersection if you can immediately exit from it.
Getting to your destination
On Banks Peninsula in Canterbury is a charming town called Akaroa. The tiny and rare Hector's dolphin can be found in Akaroa's harbour, as well as other wildlife. Visitors often come to take cruises or even swim with the dolphins. In nearby Flea Bay is the Pohatu Marine Reserve, which provides excellent view over Akaroa Harbour. Coming in from Christchurch, you can access Akaroa via SH75 for breath-taking views along the way.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Arthur’s Pass National Park is a major national park in New Zealand, located in the centre of the South Island. It features landscapes of forests, mountains, and large rivers, as well as long and short hiking trails. The nearby Arthur's Pass village offers accommodation and dining options, but you might want to bring your own food if you want to avoid purchasing overpriced food.
The ride to Arthur's Pass via New Zealand Highway 73 is beautiful but also a bit of a challenge. Getting chains is highly recommended for when driving in the winter.
Hanmer Springs is a small town and spa resort built around and named after one special feature: the hot springs. A popular tourist destination, especially during the holidays, it also offers plenty of activities such as mountain biking, bush walking, jet boating, and bungee jumping.
Hanmer Springs is 130 kilometres northwest of Christchurch and can be accessed from Highway 7.
Nelson is a coastal city, the oldest in the South Island. As the economic and cultural centre for the Nelson-Tasman region, it is bountiful in parks, rivers, beaches, and nature trails, as well as plenty of places to shop and dine. It is often the sunniest city in New Zealand, which is a good thing because there are endless activities to do under the sun, including Abel Tasman National Park. There are also attractions like the museum WOW The World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars, Miyazu Japanese Garden, and Suter Art Gallery.
Nelson is a long drive from Christchurch though, six hours to be exact, via State Highway 7 and State Highway 6.