Find out what the current road conditions from Christchurch to Queenstown are at any time of the day, either online or offline.
Current South Island highway info
The NZ Transport Agency website is an official New Zealand government website, so that is the website I would turn to first to look for information about current highway conditions.
In addition, if you do not have access to the Internet when you are on the road, you can call the 24/7 infoline to speak to a (real) person and get information about driving conditions for the area you are interested in. The number to call is 0800 444 449.
For the drive between Christchurch and Queenstown in particular, check out the Traffic Information Map or the Traffic and travel updates list, which lists updates for delays, detours, road closures, road works, general hazards, etc.
When I last checked the driving conditions, there were no major issues on the route described in the drive from Christchurch to Queenstown article, but you are advised to check the aforementioned web pages for the latest updates.
AA traffic roadwatch
The AA in New Zealand provides an online map that gives you a quick overview of road closures (with their reasons), places where driving conditions are hazardous, and locations where the road is being worked on (and whether any lanes are closed).
Road to Falls Dam, South Island, New Zealand
All in all, the AA traffic roadwatch page is a little bit more detailed than the NZTA highway info page, so worth having a look at.
When I last checked the AA roadwatch page, there were no major incidents when driving from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo or further on to Queentown via Cromwell, but you are advised to check the page for the latest updates.
Finding alternative routes from Christchurch to Queenstown
If a road is closed or you are otherwise unable to drive the shortest route from Christchurch to Queenstown, just rember that there are several ways to get to Queenstown.
In addition, there is a network of backroads and rural/country roads you could follow to get to Lake Tekapo.
Some rural roads may be dirt or fine gravel roads, but most of them in the Canterbury plains are paved.
A word of caution: If you do not have a map and cannot drive on instinct, you could get lost in the myriad of Canterbury backroads.
You could also avoid driving to Lake Tekapo and go, for example, via Timaru and Omarama, via Palmerston and Central Otago, or via Dunedin, Milton, Roxburgh, Alexandra, and Cromwell to get to Queenstown.
Note that each detour will add to the already long driving time from Christchurch to Queenstown. You can use the South Island driving distances page to get an idea of the driving distance and time between cities, should you have to take a detour.
As you can see, there are plenty of driving options available. So always remain calm and consider your options if/when roads are closed due to snow, an earthquake, floods, or any other condition that may make driving and road conditions hazardous.
Final words on driving and current road conditions
While I don’t tend to look at maps anymore when driving in New Zealand, I still always carry either a North Island or South Island kiwimaps complete driver’s atlas with me. You should be able to pick one up at any good bookstore in New Zealand, or perhaps even soon after you get off the airplane from a bookstore at Christchurch airport. I’ve even seen them being sold at petrol stations.
A good map or driver’s atlas should help you to quickly find detours should you get stuck somewhere on the road, and give you an overview of where you could drive to reach your destination.
I hope you’ve found this article useful, and take care when driving.
This article falls under Travel Guide.
Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details
directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.