I have used this company an couple of times and think they are great. The Bus goes from Christchurch to Greymouth/Hokitika -- passing through Arthurs Pass. They pass give a great commentary along the Journeys and are really friendly.
Most likely if you are on your way to Arthur's Pass, you are combining this trip with a continued journey to the West Coast of the South Island. In this case, you really only have two transportation options, riding the rail, or taking a car. We chose to rent the car, as our plans included heading down to the south and Queenstown after our trip west.
We rented from one of the national chains, in this case I believe Budget, and had plenty of room for our four passengers in a spacious mid-size rental.
If you are planning on taking a day trip, I would recommend a compact car, or just enough to get you out to the site, as the roads were all in good condition and did not require any advanced features like 4-wheel drive, although that may be handy in the winter time.
CHC airport is pretty simple and easy to navigate. We came in on a flight from Melbourne and had little trouble clearing customs, collecting our baggage and getting on the road. We flew in on Qantas, but there are plenty of choices when flying to CHC.
The following airports service CHC:
Air New Zealand
We did not spend enough time in the airport to really notice anything out of the ordinary, but it did have all the conviences like Airline Loyalty lounges and the like.
We drove from Christchurch on the east coast through Arthur's Pass to the west coast (Greymouth)...it took 3-4 hours to drive each way but we stopped a lot along the way for photos. It's a beautiful drive and definitely worth doing!!
what I was talking about.....from the East Coast to the West Coast of the South Island, through the Southern Alps, by car or by train....from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea in roughly 2 hours. now, where can you do that anywhere in the world? ^..^
If you're going to travel from Christchurch to the West Coast, I would recommend taking the Tranz Alpine from Christchurch to Greymouth. Otherwise, if you just want to see Aurthur's Pass, I would suggest taking the train there and back....the ride from Aurthur's Pass to Greymouth is not very interesting (lots of tunnels).
We took the train to Greymouth and rented a car from there. Not having to drive through the pass to start our road trip seemed like a good idea. The trip from Christchurch to Aurthur's Pass is rather remarkable. You'll see many bright blue glacial lakes and streams and you might even be able to snag a spot to snap a photo on the outdoor viewing deck. Good luck though, even in the dead of winter it can get pretty crowded out there. Just point your camera randomly and you'll likely get a great photo though.
The ticket was not very cheap but since I had already a friend going and I joined her...managed to get the last few tickets ! The journey was ok and we got off at Arthurs Pass.
What was memorable was on the way back --to be at the station at 4:30pm and we were there and no sign of the train and for the next half hour too. Then, there was some saying that the train is not coming, already 1/2 hour late...and so it was confirmed that the train is not coming back as there had been some maintenance work done during the day and it had gone wrong and not safe for the train to travel. So, people from Greymouth are departing on a bus and a bus from ChCh was coming to meet us but would take 2 hours ! And so, we both patiently wait and wait...got back to ChCh late and tired...
I can assure you, it is a georgous drive, depends how often you stop, you will make the 160km from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea in around 2hours. please stop often and take it all in
by train from Christchurch, through stunning scenery of the Southern Alps. takes around 3 1/2 hours and cost about US$70.- per person, more later,
meanwhile have a look at the webpage