If you’ve just left a ferry and are heading south, think about taking some stops on your journey. If you’re heading north to catch a ferry, make sure you leave enough time to stop en route and/or have stretch your legs in Picton before you board.
Picton foreshore, Auckland Street
If you need to have a run around straight off the boat or before you get on, there’s a cute playground right on the waterfront. Head for the i-Site on Auckland St and you should be able to park behind there and access the playground. In the summer there’s a splash pad if you’re ready with togs or a change of clothes otherwise there’s a pirate ship, swings and space to run around.
Pollard Park, Parker Street, Blenheim
Otherwise continue on to Blenheim and stop at Pollard Park which is close to SH1 (follow signs for Marlborough Tennis Club and/or Blenheim golf club. There’s a small playground area, toilets, parking right near playground, gardens, a little stream and lots of flat grass!
Stadium 2000 (Swimming Pool) Kinross Street, Blenheim (tel 03 577 8300). Open from 6am
If it’s a rainy day and you’re prepared with a bag of togs handy in the car this is the biggest pool complex you’ll pass until you get to Christchurch. A great way to burn energy. There’s a lazy river, water sprays and different depths of pools to choose from.
The Store, Kekerengu between Ward and Clarence
(tel: 03 575 8600) Open 8.30am – 4.30pm
On the sea side of SH1 south of Ward. This is a great place for a food stop. Lots of indoor games but also beach access (NOT a swimming beach!) for collecting driftwood and building a fort, looking for shells etc. Comes highly recommended by lots of families. About 1 hour 15 mins from ferry. Even if you don’t want food/a coffee, you can still access the beach here.
Seals at Ohau Point
This is the best place to see seals at the moment. You can pull over into a carpark (signposted) on the seaside of SH1, about 20 mins from The Store. You can then walk along a path (there’s a barrier between the path and road) looking for seals. How many seals can you spot?
Hislops Wholefood Café, 33 Beach Road, Kaikoura (tel: 03 319 6971) Open 8.30am – 4pm
On SH1 just north of town. There are many places to eat in Kaikoura but this place has been recommended on the facebook page. The menu has breakfast, lunch and baking items and organic / whole food. Or you might want to grab a coffee and take it to the playground….
Playground and skatepark, the Esplanade, Kaikoura
Small playground and skatepark if you have the kids scooters handy and need a leg stretch. The SkatePark is first, opposite Killarney Street, the playground is further south, just under 1km to walk between the two. Toilets at the playground.
St Anne’s Lagoon, off SH1 at Spotswood
Just north of Cheviot, this is a nice place for a breather. Toilets near the car park, lots of birds on and near the lagoon, picnic tables and plenty of grass!
Mount Beautiful, Two Rivers Café, 11 Hall Street, Cheviot (tel: 03 319 8505) Open 8am – 4pm
If you still haven’t eaten or need another coffee, this place has a garden and kids’ menu and all homemade food. It’s about 130km to Christchurch from here, so over halfway.
A detour off the main road but worth it?
Walk/beach/playground Gore Bay
9 km from SH1 is Gore Bay where you can access the beach for a run around etc. There’s a playground and grass reserve just over a speed hump as you come into Gore Bay. From the southern end of Gore Bay you can walk up to a lookout. There are DOC signs to follow (Tweedies Gully Walk) and it’s about one hour through reserve and forest but as it’s the same track to return, you can turnaround any time.
Coffee, food and supply stops and Domain!
Many of the cafes along this route close mid afternoon. If you’re needing food supplies after this, there’s a Countdown supermarket on the main road going through Amberley.
Little Vintage Espresso just off SH1 to the right at 20 Markham Street (tel: 03 314 9580) Open 7am – 4pm
A good café/coffee spot just down the road from the Domain.
Amberley Domain off Douglas Road.
Following the signs for the Scenic Inland Highway, the Domain has a small playground and plenty of running around space. Toilets and parking onsite.