How to Get from Christchurch to Queenstown

For any New Zealand South Island itinerary, the trip from Christchurch to Queenstown is almost inevitable. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a favourite for travellers and one of the best places to visit in New Zealand.

If you’ve focused your New Zealand travel plan southward, there’s a good chance you’ll start your trip in Christchurch, the largest city on South Island and the island’s most popular transport hub.

Looking to scoot down to Queenstown from Christchurch? Sort out all the options with this complete guide for how to get from Christchurch to Queenstown…

Getting from Christchurch to Queenstown

By air

As two of the main travel destinations on New Zealand’s South Island, flights between Christchurch and Queenstown are popular and plentiful.

Air New Zealand generally plies the route 4 times a day, seven days a week. Extra flights are often offered in the summer to accommodate the extra demand.

Aerial View Christchurch

The flight duration between Christchurch and Queenstown is only about one hour. Flying is the quickest and most convenient way to travel between the two cities.

By bus

If you prefer overland travel or are travelling on a tighter budget, taking the bus between Christchurch and Queenstown is a great option.

SEE ALSO: Best Things to Do in Queenstown

Travelling by bus is quite a bit cheaper than flying with the added advantage of being able to scope out South Island’s incredible natural scenery.

Lake Tekapo

The quickest and most convenient bus route between Christchurch and Queenstown is the direct InterCity bus.

It departs at 8:30am daily and takes about 8h10m. The bus also stops in Ashburton, Geraldine, Tekapo, Omarama, Cromwell, and Frankton.

Alternatively, there is a daily bus between Christchurch and Queenstown via Dunedin departing at 7:45am. This route, however, takes about 11 hours.

By car

If you’re not on a tight schedule or budget, the best way to travel between Christchurch and Queenstown is by car.

Lake Wakatipu

Undertaking a New Zealand South Island road trip could very well be one of highlights of your entire travel career!

There are two main road routes between the two cities:

  1. The coastal route
  2. The inland route

Each of these road trip routes provides a completely different look at the South Island’s incredible natural scenery.

The coastal route

If you love ocean breezes and aren’t in a rush, the coastal route between Christchurch and Queenstown is an excellent option.

The 640-kilometre route winds along the eastern coast of South Island to Dunedin before heading inland to Queenstown via Alexandra.

Kawarau Gorge

Other stops along the way include Timarau, Oamarau, Roxburgh and Lawrence. Between Alexandra and Queenstown, you’ll also wind along the stunning Kawarau Gorge.

The coastal route takes about 7.5 hours by car.

The inland route

If you’re looking for a more direct path from Christchurch to Queenstown, the inland route is your best option.

At 483 kilometres, the inland route shaves about 1.5 hours from the drive and offers a glance at South Island’s amazing mountainscapes.

Road to Mount Cook

There’s a handful of great potential stops along the inland route including Lake Tekapo and the majestic Mount Cook.

Closer to Queenstown, you’ll drive through the town of Cromwell, famous for its vineyards, and along the Kawarau Gorge. 


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)