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By Ben Selby
Geraldine is one of Canterbury’s best kept secrets. Getting there is also a splendid day out with your classic car. The run from Christchurch to Geraldine can be done by via two completely different routes.
First of these is head south along State Highway One through Rolleston, Templeton, across the Rakaia River, through Rakaia itself, Ashburton and Hinds before turning right at Rangitata and heading inland till you arrive at Geraldine.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with going this way, we would definitely argue the inland route, despite being somewhat longer, is infinitely more picturesque and engaging. So, here is how you do it.
Leaving from central Christchurch, you start down towards Rolleston on SH1 just as you would do if you were going to Geraldine direct. When you reach Rolleston, turn right onto Hoskyns Road, follow this and turn left onto State Highway 73 towards Kirwee.
Through Kirwee, you then join the West Coast Road which also becomes the Great Alpine Highway. Follow this and you arrive in Darfield. In Darfield there are a number of great cafés and pubs if you fancy a bite to eat or a refreshing beverage.
After Darfield, heading along State Highway 77. You should now start to gaze upon the majesty of the Southern Alps at close range.
A short while later of travelling along SH77, you arrive at Glentunnel. Glentunnel was once a strong mining town, which continued until the mid-1980s. Many of the old cottages used by the original miners are still standing today. The original community buildings such as the red brick library are also worth checking out.
From here, the road continues to flow from bend to sweeping bend as you munch up the miles. When you reach Windwhistle, you can opt to take a right turn onto Coleridge Road and head to Terrace Downs Resort.
Terrace Downs is a very popular luxury accommodation and golf resort. You can also have a delightful meal and take part in some of the on-site activities such as archery, clay shooting and of course, a round of golf.
Back on the road and out of Windwhistle, you head past the beautiful Rakaia River. We would recommend stopping here to snap a few pictures of your classic coupled with the view.
Following this along SH77, you head past Mt Hutt. This place is always popular for Cantabrians who make the pilgrimage to the Ski Fields every winter. With a fresh dumping of snow towards the summit, it also makes for an awe-inspiring sight. Just make sure to wrap up warm, especially if your classic goes topless.
SH77 then becomes the famous Inland Scenic Route 72. Here you take in more breath-taking scenery while removing the shackles of your classic and opening up the taps a bit. Not too much of course but then you already knew that right?
After passing through Mt Somers, Mayfield and cross the Orari River, you arrive in Geraldine. Founded in 1854 by Samuel Hewlings, it packs a smorgasbord of activities, walks and places to eat. Talking of eats? Geraldine also sports local cheese mongers and of course, Barkers.
Barkers Geraldine is known throughout New Zealand for its sauces, juices and other culinary goodies, so its certainly worthwhile stopping here for a shop. Also take your classic to the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum.
Vintage cars, vintage tractors and other machinery are all on display. It is open seven days a week from mid September to Queens Birthday in June and during the winter months every weekend.
Going home you can head back to Christchurch via Ashburton, Rakaia and Templeton along SH1.