The Inland Scenic Route

Take a relaxing journey through the heartland of New Zealand

Whether travelling from south to north, or north to south, the Inland Scenic Route (SH72) is one of New Zealand’s great drives and a must-do for all visitors to the district.

A journey through four distinct districts

This route encapsulates the quintessential Kiwi country drive taking in four very distinct districts including Selwyn.

Travel through Glentunnel, a village with a picturesque country school and a fascinating museum detailing the coal mining history of the area. You should be able to spy the historic Homebush estate, home to the Deans family, prominent early settlers of Christchurch and Canterbury.  

Close by is the ‘pocket of paradise’, Washpen Falls, a conservation project that started 80 million years ago with a major volcanic blow. There’s a walking track, starting at Old Washpen Falls Woolshed and taking you through the Volcanic Canyon reserve filled with lush native bush and wonderful birdlife. This unspoilt area is easily accessed via sympathetically constructed tracks, stairs and board walks.


At the top of the climb you are rewarded with fabulous views across the Canterbury Plains to the sea. As you descend back down the canyon the track takes you alongside sparkling spring-fed creeks and stunning waterfalls, creating the longest tributary of the Hororata River.

Further along the route the road dips down into the Rakaia River Gorge. One of the South Island’s mighty braided rivers, the Rakaia is briefly confined in a narrow canyon to form the gorge which is traversed by two road bridges.  This is a perfect stop for photos!

Beautiful view of the blue lake and snow mountains in the background

If you have a little more time the Rakaia Gorge Walkway is a 3-4 hour walk that follows the rim of the gorge through spectacular geological areas, with a side loop that takes walkers down to the river itself.  Another way to experience the river is by jet boat, which weaves its way through the blue waters rich with salmon and trout.

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