Highway 7

From Waipara and Highway 1 to Greymouth and HWY 6.

Upper Waiau River

Upper Waiau River with spring/early summer broom flowers in bloom.

Highway 7 is one of the four routes to the West Coast and the primary route between Christchurch, Reefton and Westport, and a longer alternate route between Christchurch and Greymouth.  The section from Waipara to Springs junction is a main route to Murchison, Nelson lakes National Park  and Nelson.

Waipara is home to the Weka Pass Railway, it is a small agricultural town with a focus on sheep farming and wine and home to the Weka Pass Railway.

If travelling north from Christchurch, the route most travelled, turn left off HWY 1 at Waipara, it's well signposted.

From Waipara, this excellent road is straight for a while through the northern Canterbury plains before it passes through the picturesque Weka Pass to the village of Waikari.  There's a turn off here to Harwarden and Lake Sumner forest park, a tea shop, fuel (business hours only), a hotel and gift shop.  Another turn off takes you back to highway one at Greta Valley.

There's a nice big hill to cruise over before coming down to the Huruniu Tavern and Hurunui river.  There's a nice picnic and camping spot at the north end of the bridge.  Once you're over the humps, Balmoral forest is a significant feature and the road leads dead straight into Culverden, a popular refreshment and toilet stop, and hub for the traffic police. The loos are on the left as you enter town and are usually clean.

3 kms on the straight is left behind at the Kaikoura turn off  and the road becomes windier as it goes up the Waiau river valley to the Hanmer  Springs turn off.

Now the hills increase as we approach the main divide, the forest and mountains provide a grand setting.  There are many walkways including Lake Sumner Forest Park which is to the left before a small collection of houses and turning north into the Hope River Valley.

A little way on, Boyle Village makes the start of the St James Walkway,  there are natural hot springs on the river edge at Sylvia Flat less than 3 km further on.

The road winds gently with a few surprising turns through beech forest up to the summit of the Lewis Pass. There's a delightful short walkway on the right just before the top of the pass as the road levels and sweeps left.  This is also the other start/end of the St James Walkway.  If it ain't raining, there's some great views and photo opportunities here.

The natural hot pools at Syvlia Flat. Camp and bath here for free.

The natural hot pools at Syvlia Flat. Camp and have a hot bath here for free.

Then the road winds down to The Maruia Thermal Resort that has its own hydro power station. This is a popular resort with a hotel, accommodation and of course natural geothermal pools.

The highway flows down the Maruia River valley and has some interesting places to stop  to stretch your legs, experience nature, camp and take more photos.

Springs Junction is the next stop, it's a popular refreshment and fuel stop where the road divides.

Highway continues Springs Junction tp Greymouth

The left turn follows up over another pass (the Rahu Saddle). The pristine forest gives way to more farmland , the village of Blacks Point and Reefton, an old coal and gold mining town. Blacks point has a museum reflecting the areas mining history.

Reefton has a range of cafés and accommodation. The area is popular for hunting and tramping.

Continuing beyond, follow along the main street and turn left to Greymouth or right towards Westport on highways 69 and 7.

HWY 7 continues south down through the spacious farmland of the Grey River Valley to Greymouth. Along the way pass through the small farming towns if Mawhwerati, Ikamatua, Totara Flat, Ahaura and Ngahere where a left turn leads to Nelson Creek, Rotomanu and Arthurs Pass). At Stillwater a left turn leads to to Moana, a right takes you down to Tayloville, a short cut if going to Punakiki, but otherwise down to Greymouth and HWY 6.

Reefton - Westport
The right turn at Reefton takes you on down HWY 69 to join HWY 6 at Inangahua Junction, the epicentre of the 1669 earthquake. The township of Inangahua Junction is located to the right over the river on HWY 6 and from here you can drive north to Murchison and Nelson.

From Inangahua Junction, the plains are left behind as the road follows down through the spectacular  of the Buller River Gorges down to meet HWY 67 and on to Westport.


Maruia Falls
You can walk over the rocks atop the falls, however people have slipped and drowned here, so take care.

Springs Junction - Murchison - Nelson
At Springs Junction, veer right and HWY 65 takes you over the Shenandoah to Murchison, onto highway 6 and Nelson. The highlight on this excellent highway is the Maruia Falls where you can stop just off the road and a two minute walk gives a good view, of 5 mins takes you to the beach under the falls.

From Murchison you can go south to Inangahua Junction and Westport, or north following the upper Buller River where there is a turn off to the Nelson Lakes and St Arnaud.

Christchurch Nelson Route

Highway 6Blenheim - Nelson, Nelson - West Coast, West Coast - Central Otago, Central Otago - Southland


2 comments to Highway 7

  • James Fly

    This is such a great website, but since the main highway from Kaikoura was closed, I had to drive through this way. Traffic is generally slow, heavily policed so you have to take it easy and keep your wits about you. When you stop for food or fuel, you sometimes have to wait in line a little whiles, but a fantastic drive

  • Lloyd

    Hey, Sylvia Flat is a really nice spot but the sandflies are atrocious