Road Trip Destinations: Christchurch to Ashley Gorge

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Who doesn’t love a good spot for a picnic? Yes, we are rapidly approaching the winter months but on occasion there will be some warm sun filled days where a picnic amongst some picturesque surroundings would be more than ideal. Especially at the wheel of a classic car.

One of these settings would without a doubt be Ashley Gorge. With vistas, walks and a picnic ground with those picturesque surroundings of the rolling Canterbury high country hills and the Ashely River itself snaking its way through Canterbury from its start point high up in the Puketeraki Ranges. The drive to Ashley Gorge has also passed into Canterbury motoring folklore. Here is how you can do it.

Starting from central Christchurch aim your classic for SH1 and head north. Before long you are leaving Christchurch city limits and you arrive at Woodend.

Here you take the first left before Woodend onto Rangiora/Woodend Road. This will allow you to navigate around the sometimes-congested traffic heading into Rangiora. After a while you will through some more suburbia and a few plots of farm land before you hack a right onto Golf Links Road. After this turn left onto Coldstream Road passed Mainpower Stadium, over the railway line and turn right onto Cones Road.

Here is where you see the Ashley River for the first time as you drive over the first of a number of bridges on your tip. The road starts to twist and turn but there are plenty of straights for you to relax and settle into a cruise. Once you head past Ashley Football club, turn right onto Hodgsons Road. This road eventually becomes Birch Hill Road and here you really start to head into the Canterbury High Country.

The road starts to twist and turn even more. There are plenty of sections between here and Okuku where you can remove the shackles of your classic and, dare I say it, have a bit of fun. Farmland, riverbeds, bridges, countless sections of shrubland and heavily forested areas, it’s a beautiful route to take.

Once you head through Glentui, it gets really good, though be weary as the turns rise and fall suddenly, as do the rolling hills as you hurtle past the foot of the hillside. After you cross a single lane bridge which suspends you high above the Ashely River, you arrive at Ashley Gorge, or the Ashley Gorge Kiwi Holiday Park to be exact.

Drive through to the grounds and you can access the Ashley River. With all amenities on hand and with the stunning views of the river itself and the surrounding hills, it’s a grand place to enjoy that picnic.

To return home, simply head back the way you came, or turn right and follow the road to Oxford. Once there, turn left and follow your nose and signs back to Christchurch. Easy.

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