Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest city, is about 270 miles (440 kms) from Wellington, its capital. As the two cities are on different islands, flying is the quickest and easiest way of getting from Christchurch to Wellington, but there are other options for travelers who want to take the scenic route.

By Air

Duration: 1 hour

Many flights a day are made between Christchurch and Wellington. This is by far the quickest and easiest way of traveling between the two cities, so is the recommended option if you're short on time, or if you've flown into Christchurch International Airport and want to tour the North Island. On a clear day you may get some nice views of the east coast of the upper South Island and the Marlborough Sounds. Wellington is a notoriously windy city, and flights into the capital can be a bit turbulent. This is standard, and nothing to be alarmed about.

By Car and Ferry

Duration: 1 day or more

Although Wellington is at the bottom of the North Island and Christchurch is about half-way down the South Island, driving between the two cities may be easier than it sounds thanks to the car ferry between the two islands. 

From Christchurch, head north on State Highway (SH) 1 to Picton. The journey takes about five hours, and follows much of the east coast. The town of Kaikoura is a popular place to stop and do some whale watching, so it's worth breaking the journey over a few days to spend some time here.

From Picton you can take a ferry to Wellington. Several ferries leave throughout the day, from the early hours of the morning to late evening. It's possible to time your journey so you leave Christchurch in the morning and get on an afternoon ferry, arriving in Wellington later the same day. The ferry terminal in Wellington is just north of the central city. Book ferry tickets in advance, as they sell quickly, especially in the summer.

The ferry crossing is especially beautiful as it passes through the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. The seas can be rough when there's been bad weather, and services are sometimes canceled when conditions are too rough.

By Bus and Ferry

Duration: 1 day or more

The same route as above can be taken on a long-distance bus. These leave Christchurch in the early morning, and arrive in Wellington in the evening, after crossing from Picton to Wellington on the ferry in the afternoon. This is an especially convenient option for travelers without their own vehicle.

By Train and Ferry

Duration: 1 day or more

Another option for car-free travelers is to take the scenic Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch to Picton, and then cross the Cook Strait on the ferry. These run every day. This follows the road most of the way, but has the benefit of being environmentally friendlier. Plus, the train is more comfortable than the bus as there's space to move around, toilets, and a dining car. Passengers can stop in Kaikoura and catch a train coming through the next day or later.


Map of How to Get from Christchurch to Wellington
Map of How to Get from Christchurch to Wellington