State Highway 1 passes through the town on its route from Cheviot to Kaikoura, and the Main North Line railway from Christchurch to Picton also runs through the town. At one stage, the Waiau Branch was intended to be the main line north and a branch line diverged from the Waiau route in Waipara to service coastal communities. This line was opened to Parnassus in 1912 and was known as the Parnassus Branch at that stage. However, the decision was made to use the Parnassus route as the main line, relegating the route from Waipara through the Weka Pass to Waiau to the status of branch line. The Main North Line was completed in 1945 and continues to serve Parnassus today.