Journey time: 3h:45m (including sidetrip to Lake Coleridge and short stops at Rakaia Gorge and Terrace Downs)
Direct would only be 1h:45m
Weather: Fine and sunny (Christchurch 22°C, Methven 20°C)
There are a variety of ways to head South out of Christchurch. Taking SH73 to Darfield then following SH72 the scenic route is the most logical. We happened to leave Christchurch on SH1 South and turned off at Burnham or Norwood and eventually navigated our way to SH77/72 at Darfield.
4WD enthusiasts might consider leaving by the Waimakariri River track which starts just North of Christchurch (before Kaiapoi) and follows the riverbank for roughly 50 km up to the St George Bridge where you can get onto SH72. But take care not to end up like this!
Some might want to take the long way by heading North from Christchurch on SH1 and branching left at Woodend onto SH72 and following it round through Rangiora and Oxford (great for a gourmet morning tea or brunch).
These are the first of many options you can take on this seemingly short leg of our journey.
Eventually head through Homebush, Glentunnel and Windwhistle.
Imagine having this view at your letterbox every day.
Seems a common sight along SH72.
We turned right just before the Rakaia River and headed toward Terrace Downs and Lake Coleridge.
The entrance to Terrace Downs golf resort and subdivision is on the left. Drive in, stay for lunch or the night, play some golf on a top quality course, buy a villa or just look around and enjoy the views. Spectacular views of the Rakaia Gorge are had from the far side of the golf course but you'll need permission to get there this way.
Follow the road up to Lake Coleridge and you will be rewarded with some stunning views.
Return to SH72 and stop off at the car park before the bridge at the Rakaia River. If the sky is amenable, you could have some of the best photo ops of your trip.
If you're into walking there a couple of good options:
The Rakaia Gorge walk starts from here or there is a very nice (private but worth the small charge) walk at Washpen Falls a short drive back to Windwhistle.
Exploring these places will take up your day but fortunately Methven is just a short distance South past the Rakaia River bridge.
There are more magic places to visit round here.
Not even many New Zealanders know about Methven so I don't know whether to tell you to spread the word or keep it as one of our little secrets.
next day - Mt Cook...